Mass Transit has recently become a popular idea in North Carolina's metropolitan areas, particularly in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and the Triangle.
(6.26.12) Wake Decision Puts Bus/Rail Plan in Limbo
RALEIGH — Wake County’s decision not to put a half-cent sales tax referendum on the Nov. 6 general election ballot “is troubling” to Durham County officials, and will affect how they move forward with a tri-county regional transit plan featuring a mixture of light rail and expanded bus service.
(6.20.12) Wake Commissioners Scuttle Vote on Transit Tax
RALEIGH — An outpouring of advocates for light rail and expanded bus service spilled into an overflow room Monday, chiding the Wake County Board of Commissioners for engaging in partisan politics in blocking a vote to put a half-cent sales tax on November’s ballot.
(6.07.12) Transit Tax Will Go Before Orange County Voters
HILLSBOROUGH – Orange County voters will decide the fate of a nearly $1.4 billion light rail project for Durham and Orange counties in the Nov. 6 general election. If voters approve the sales tax, it would trigger implementation of a similar tax in Durham County. Wake County may not bring the tax measure to the public for a vote.
(5.14.12) Orange County Commission Likely to Move Transit Plan Forward
HILLSBOROUGH – The Orange County Board of Commissioners is expected Tuesday to approve a $1.3 billion light-rail project for Durham and Orange counties and vote June 5 on a half-cent sales tax to fund the controversial transit plan.
(3.07.12) Railroads Won’t Say If They’re On Board With Wake County Transit Plan
RALEIGH — As county commissioners consider whether to put a “transit” tax — a half-cent sales tax increase — on this year's ballot to pay for the estimated $4.6 billion rail project, the railroad companies that must provide access to their lines haven’t signed off on the proposal.
(2.01.12) Report Blasts Wake County’s Transit Plan
RALEIGH — Study authors concluded that, under the county’s transit proposal, the average time it would take a commuter to travel by train was “well over double” the time required to travel by car.
(1.19.12) Iredell County Rejects Charlotte’s Rail Line
STATESVILLE — County commissioners said they worried the $452 million project would end up costing much more money and wouldn’t create the economic development rail proponents anticipate.
(1.16.12) Wake, Orange To Decide Fate of Transit Tax Measures
RALEIGH — Durham passed a transit tax measure last year. But public support for rail is more mixed in Wake County. And residents of Orange are warming to expanding bus service rather than building a new rail system.
(10.31.11) Railing Against Flawed Policies
Sell the state-owned North Carolina Railroad to the highest bidder. Use the proceeds to pay down state debt and invest in roads and bridges.
(8.22.11) The Real Automotive Alternative
Buses are a good solution for increasing the mobility of poor people who don’t own cars, elderly and disabled people who can’t drive cars, and urbanites who don’t want to own cars.
(6.23.11) Triad Residents See Little Trouble PARTing With Transit Agency
GREENSBORO — Piedmont Authority for Regional Transit is facing a funding crisis of epic proportions. As a result, its future is far from certain. At the very least, routes could be reduced greatly; at the very worst, the agency could shut down.
(6.09.11) Feds Push for National Vehicle Mileage-Based Tax
RALEIGH — Critics of a vehicle mileage-based tax note that boosting the cost of driving might push more commuters into public transit — a goal of the administration and advocates of a “smart growth” urban planning agenda.
(4.27.11) Misleading Counting Method Inflates Rail Jobs
RALEIGH — The Obama administration has refused to defend the concept of ”job-years” publicly. And Gov. Bev Perdue has been a steadfast user of the inflated figure, which measures “job-years” instead of actual jobs.
(4.15.11) Davis Garage Pits Downtown Businessman Against Transit Planners
WINSTON-SALEM — It may be some time before the city can acquire the historic Davis Garage property, let alone bring its vision of a transportation hub to life. Davis and city officials are far apart in their assessments of a fair market value for the parcel.
(12.13.10) Speak Privately on Transit
Debates about transit often devolve into fanciful claims, historical revisionism, and bizarre economics.
(11.08.10) Flashback: Most Transportation Is Private
Transportation in the U.S. is overwhelmingly provided and paid for by customers within private markets.
(9.16.10) Not-So-High-Speed Rail Across North Carolina
RALEIGH -- The rail proposal has pitted one set of Raleigh residents against another. The answer is to scuttle the idea entirely.
(7.21.10) A Bad Rap Well-Earned
The current crop of politicians in Raleigh and Washington have had plenty of time to get transportation policy right. They’ve failed.
(5.19.10) VIDEO: City Seeks Public Comment on Union Station
RALEIGH – The public has an opportunity to tell city planners what it thinks of the city’s proposed $212 million Union Station. The building would be a central stop for all the transit moving in and out of the downtown area. Triangle Transit’s proposed light rail also would use the station. While the total price tag is $212 million, the city only would be on the hook for as much as $21 million.
(5.04.10) VIDEO: Raleigh Considers $212 Million Transit Center
RALEIGH — Raleigh's city council is taking the first steps in a process to build an expansive new transit center. It's estimated to cost as much as $212 million and would be the new home for the city's and region's bus service, Greyhound depot and Amtrak station. Planners hope it eventually will house light rail and commuter rail services. Opponents say the building will waste valuable real estate and money that would be better spent on more popular forms of transportation.
(4.20.10) The Case Against Rail
North Carolina readers will be particularly interested in his comparison of the Charlotte transit line to other systems and the national average. The results aren’t pretty.
(4.06.10) N.C. Transportation System Needs Better Project Selection Process
RALEIGH — A better project selection process is more important than new funding sources in addressing North Carolina's transportation needs. The John Locke Foundation's top budget expert will deliver that message at 1 p.m. today in testimony to state legislators.
(8.05.08) Lack Of Realism On Transit
A couple of years of 10 percent jumps in bus riders only represent a few thousand people statewide. That doesn’t come close to eliminating the need for new road projects.
(3.20.08) Transit Backers Urge Big Sell Job
RALEIGH — Members of a special transit advisory commission used their final scheduled meeting recently to stress the urgency of approving a bold set of transportation recommendations for the Triangle that includes an expansive rail-transit system.
(3.06.08) Commission Pushes $2B Transit Plan
RALEIGH — The Triangle’s two metropolitan planning organizations have joined forces to bring an ambitious mass-transit system to the region that could cost $2 billion, but critics say the new proposal is worse than a previous rail-transit plan that failed because of lack of federal commitment.
(2.14.08) Public Input Shorted on Transit Plan
RALEIGH — The Triangle’s two metropolitan planning organizations have joined forces to bring an ambitious mass-transit system to the region that could cost $2 billion, but taxpayers won’t get much time to digest the proposal.
(2.13.08) PART Of A Flawed Argument
No wonder transit boosters seek to redefine terms. In their continuing struggle against suburbia, the automobile, and limited government, the English language is not their friend.
(2.05.08) A Transit-Related Idea To Distrust
No one truly believes that charging transit users fees, directly or indirectly, would come anywhere close to paying for transit service.
(12.06.07) Why We Need More Trains
It's time for a big new investment in rail capacity in North Carolina and other states.
(8.31.07) Some Transport Issues To Study
North Carolina’s process for setting priorities and allocating funds in grossly out of whack.
(8.30.07) Some Transport Issues To Study
Most of the state’s political class believes there’s nothing left to study but which taxes and fees to raise to cover a projected funding gap in transportation.
(7.18.07) The Trainwreck at UNC-Charlotte
I have to admit when I’m wrong. After all, rare moments deserve to be savored.
(6.22.07) UNCC Resources Push Charlotte Transit
CHARLOTTE — State employees and resources were used to prepare a report written to the specifications of opponents of the repeal of the half-cent transit tax levied in Mecklenburg County, emails to and from UNCC Chancellor Phil Dubois show.
(3.13.07) Tax Repeal Comes Down the Track
Charlotte-Mecklenburg is about to have a spirited, consequential, and slightly silly debate about mass transit and the local tax burden. It’s about time.
(11.28.06) Feeling Sorry for the Planners
Many residents of growing communities will say they like the notion of high-density development in theory – as long as someone else is going to live there, and it won’t be next door.
(11.14.06) Best Route to Transportation Solution
According to a federal report, half of all commutes are suburb-to-suburb. Only 19 percent are what is misleadingly called the “traditional” suburb-to-downtown commute.
(7.28.06) Transit Skepticism Is Not Anti-Train
For all the opprobrium I have heaped on North Carolina rail-transit projects that taxpayers statewide have been forced to fund over the past decade, one might assume that I detest trolleys and subways. Not true.
(12.16.05) It’s Not Over Till, Well, Never
After receiving a letter from North Carolina’s two senators signaling the end of serious efforts to securing long-term federal funding for Triangle rail, transit officials say they’ll proceed. And in related news. . .
(12.08.05) A Transport Plan Comes Together
Has a certain political scandal ruined the phrase, “I love it when a plan comes together”? Because it applies well to a new commission report on NC transportation and its antecedents.
(9.30.05) Congrats, New Rail Investor
Taxpayers across North Carolina are investors in new transit systems in Charlotte and the Triangle, whether they know it or not. Fortunately, these wasteful projects have not yet reached the point of no return.
(5.18.05) On Clogged Arteries, Find the Cause
Officials in Charlotte are struggling with a tough choice about an outerbelt. But they and their counterparts elsewhere in NC need to ponder a broader point about priorities.
(5.16.05) Learning to Love Lexus Lanes
Folks who used to attack the idea of adding toll lanes to our highways are starting to come around — particularly when they consider the effects on congestion and even transit use.
(2.17.05) Missing the Boat on Trafffic Congestion
North Carolina is missing the boat on how to alleviate traffic congestion — particularly if we use a nautical analogy, rather than a landlubber’s, to describe the potential effects of the Internet.
(2.11.05) Which Way on Transportation?
Early February 2005 brought much news about North Carolina transportation, from federal decisions about transit and Amtrak to state ideas for highway equity and taxes. Time for some decisions.
(2.10.05) Wrong on Pollution Facts -- Again
A new story alleges NC air quality is among the worst in the US and can't be improved without pushing mass transit and Smart Growth. Just goes to show the persistence of myths.
(1.14.05) Extrapolation, Exaggeration, Exasperation
Government officials make bad predictions because they wrongly project current trends far into the future. Here's one way to think about the fallacy involved.
(1.14.05) No, Please, Not The Trolley Barn!
It's tough to choose in Charlotte: keep up with the cost overruns in its light-rail project, or preserve its cherished trolley barn. Which one is the more absurd idea?
(1.12.05) Smart Growth: It's Even Dumber
High-density, transit-oriented development isn't just bad for traffic, the economy, and the environment. It's also an effective means of increasing the crime rate.
(1.09.05) The Year of Living Dangerously
Look out Char-Meck residents, here come the tax increases. Light rail, arts projects, schools -- all clamor for more money.
(1.07.05) A Futile, Costly War Against Suburbia
North Carolina politicians, planners, and bureaucrats are fighting a war against the suburbs across numerous fronts: transportation, land-use, local subsidies. It’s long past time to surrender.
(12.28.04) Rail Projects to Worsen Air Pollution
RALEIGH — Mass-transit advocates claim that light rail reduces pollution and congestion, but new evidence indicates that this may not be the case. In recent studies of Dallas, Denver, and other cities, economist Randal O’Toole notes that proposed light-rail plans would actually increase nitrous oxide emissions while increasing costs. The city of San Jose has come up with a more cost-effective means of reducing pollution and congestion — by spending $1 million on synchronizing traffic lights along one of the city’s busiest streets. Other new studies on local government address inner-city employment and growth controls.
(12.23.04) Six Simple Tools for Getting NC Moving
Transportation issues are among the most critical ones facing North Carolina. Here are six key recommendations for getting the most bang for the taxpayers' buck in transportation.
(12.23.04) Toy Train Costs Charlotte Real Money
News that Charlotte's $40 million trolley must suspend service in order to make room for the $400 light rail project suggest its purpose is just about over.
(12.15.04) Peace, HOV, and Understanding
HOV lanes for I-77 may help reduce congestion -- which argues against spending millions on a light rail route to duplicate their function.
(11.17.04) Paying the Cost to Be the Boss
Charlotte's $400 million plan for it's first stretch of light rail mass transit finds itself trying to make up a $15 million shortfall. And that's just the first round of bids for the project.
(10.29.04) High Speed Trains, Low Ridership
RALEIGH — At first glance, there may seem a world of difference between a light-rail system transporting urban commuters and a European-style “bullet train” speeding between cities at more than 100 mph. But the underlying economics are remarkably similar, as both require enormous capital outlays and rely on what might be called the “Field of Dreams” school of marketing. If recent history is any guide, both concepts stand to use huge amounts of taxpayer money to provide services desired mainly by a loose coalition of automobile haters and nostalgia buffs — along with bureaucrats who maintain that North Carolina can’t remain competitive without more rail service.
(10.20.04) Thud, Thud, Thud Went the Trolley
Within hours of each other the South End trolley began morning rush-hour service and a new seven-mile stretch of I-485 went green. Guess which one was more popular?
(9.24.04) Next Stop, Cleveland?
New Census Bureau information shows that Cleveland is the poorest big city in America, this despite years of "investment" in a light rail system that was supposed to help stave-off such woes.
(9.03.04) Train Kept a Rollin'
Questioning mass transit plans in Charlotte brings criticism that reveals a misunderstanding of how our federal system must work.
(8.19.04) Trains May Worsen Air Pollution
Advocates of mass transit can cast aspersions all they like, but it is they who cling to the notion that rail lines will improve air quality even though research and common sense suggest they won’t.
(6.11.04) Charlotte, Triangle Transit Delayed
CHARLOTTE — When the Federal Transit Administration released its proposed fiscal 2005 budget in February, there were plenty of disappointed transit supporters in both the Triangle and Charlotte. Rather than committing to pick up half the tab for new rail transit systems in the two communities, the FTA’s upcoming budget recommended providing only limited funding for the systems. Though the two authorities may well get the funding they sought in the future, the coming year’s limited authorization makes it likely that the completion date for the routes will slip. The Charlotte route was to open in 2006, the Triangle line a year later.
(6.01.04) Are NC Roads “Moving Ahead”?
CHARLOTTE — Last year, Gov. Mike Easley unveiled a new road-building initiative called N.C. Moving Ahead! By tapping into approved but never issued bonds, the N.C. Department of Transportation could spend an additional $700 million on transportation projects across the state. However, a lack of competition in the paving business plus a failure to make fundamental reforms to address ongoing maintenance needs and regional disparities in road conditions mean that the condition of North Carolina roads won’t be moving that far ahead. Some of the money will also be used for mass transit rather than highways.
(6.27.03) Charlotte Transit Gets Green Light
CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Area Transit System has received federal environmental approval of the first of its five transit lines, setting the stage for construction to begin soon. At the same time, a local group was protesting the proposed routing of another rail line, which might require the relocations of hundreds of graves in two historic cemeteries. With federal environmental approval, CATS is expected to act quickly to buy land along the future 10-mile light-rail line. The route will run from uptown Charlotte south along South Boulevard to just short of Interstate 485 in Pineville.
(5.20.03) New Data on Transportation Trends
RALEIGH — As Charlotte, the Triangle, the Triad, and other communities debate the addition of light rail to their transit systems, it may be worthwhile to consider its success where systems are already in place. With the release of the 2000 Census data, an analysis of light-rail trends that prove enlightening to North Carolina policymakers. In U.S. cities with major rail lines, transit ridership is either declining significantly or increasing only slightly. Meanwhile, other trends in interstate usage and toll roads deserve attention.
(4.24.03) Another Cautionary Tale about Urban Planning
It's time to add San Jose to the list of cities -- beginning with Portland -- that have promoted the trendiest notions of urban planning and, then, proved them erroneous.
(2.21.03) Wrong Direction for North Carolina Roads
Gov. Mike Easley has proposed a plan to redirect Highway Trust Fund money to road improvements and mass transit. Points for intention but not for the policy are merited.
(10.17.02) No. 623: Transportation Programs Built on Deception
Planners of transportation projects deliberately mislead officials on eventual costs, researchers say.