Think about your commute to work this morning. You probably got in your car in a chipper mood, with plenty of time to get to work. But then what happened? Maybe there was an accident on your commute route. Maybe you had to sit in the carpool lane at your child’s school for twenty minutes while other parents tried to wedge their car in front of yours as they hurried to get somewhere much more important. Maybe you just ran into the daily traffic jam that so many of us deal with. You probably spent time just sitting in traffic, all the while feeling your stress level rise. By the time you pulled into a parking space at your office you probably weren’t in a great mood.
No one likes sitting in traffic, but most of us have grown up accepting that it’s just what we have to do. We deal with the stress, inconvenience and extra time because we have to get to work every day to support our families and reach our career goals. Especially in the Southeastern US, not owning a car is almost never an option. But as North Carolina continues to grow, particularly in urban areas, we need to think about what we want our communities (and our commutes) to look like in 5, 10, or even 20 years.
Wake County is growing by a stunning 64 people per day, and it’s not slowing down. With so many people moving to Wake, we need to make efforts to keep it a great place to live. That means having a modern public transportation system that provides new and better transportation options for everyone. Our county leaders saw this need and developed a plan to vastly expand and improve bus service and build commuter rail, so that people have the options they need. Better transit creates jobs and increases economic competitiveness, provides access for older residents and young professionals alike, improves public health and the environment, and helps create vibrant neighborhoods.
The 10-year Wake County Transit Plan will:
- Triple bus service in just the first few years, connecting every town in the county. Service will expand to 19 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Build a frequent “Bus Rapid Transit” network in high-traffic areas, with buses that move faster than the flow of traffic. Bus Rapid Transit uses dedicated bus lanes, level boarding platforms, and other features to speed up your trip.
- Create a new commuter rail line to provide passenger train service from Garner to Durham, with stops in Raleigh, NCSU, Cary, Morrisville and RTP, giving people options to avoid traffic on I-40.
Now imagine a different commute. You wake up and eat breakfast, check the app on your phone to see when the bus will arrive. It’s just a short walk to the nearest transit stop, where you catch the bus that takes you to a commuter rail station. You board the train, where you pull out your laptop and answer some emails, or just sip your morning cup of coffee. When you step off onto the platform you’re feeling energetic and ready to take on the day. Then it’s just another short walk or bus ride to the office…no muss, no fuss.
This election Wake voters can vote on a referendum to make the new Wake Transit Plan a reality. The proposed half-cent sales tax increase for public transit improvements will cost the average Wake resident less than ten cents a day. More than 50% of homes and 84% of jobs will be within walking distance of a transit stop across the county, so you’ll have a convenient connection close to you. Even if you don’t wish to use transit, wouldn’t it be nice if many others will? The transit plan could take more than one million miles of travel off our roads every day by offering alternatives to driving.