Subhd img 6


June 2012

  • Commissioners Voted Not to Move Transit Forward in 2012

    June 26, 2012

  • Ford: Culture clash over cars, transit

    June 26, 2012

  • 22 Constituents Speak in Favor of Transit, GOP Commissioners Ignore

    June 26, 2012

    In a 4-to-3 vote along party lines, members of the Wake County Commission Monday turned down a proposal to consider a transit plan and a half-cent sales tax referendum for this November’s ballot.

    Commissioner Erv Portman presented the motion, at the very end of a meeting during which more than 20 people spoke in favor of putting the referendum on this November’s ballot.

    Although Monday’s meeting agenda included no mention of the sales tax for an expanded transit plan in the Triangle, the topic dominated the public comment period.

    “Your lack of action indicates a profound distrust of citizens to make decisions,” said Betty Ellerbee, a member of the League of Women Voters in Wake County. “You need to act today to make Democracy work. Vote to place the transit tax referendum on the November ballot.”

    Speakers included Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, joined by Mayor Frank Eagle of Rolesville and Mayor Ronnie Williams of Garner. McFarlane asked the group to compile a list of questions for Triangle Transit to “just have the discussion so the other cities and town share some insight on this.”

    Members of the Capital Area Friends of Transit seemed to be the bulk of the attendants. CAFT e-mailed members in advance asking for support at the podium.

    The $2.8 billion draft transit plan created by Wake County and Triangle Transit staff would expand bus service throughout the Triangle and create commuter rail lines connecting parts of Wake and Durham counties. Although light rail is addressed in an expanded version of the plan, that segment is not part of the initial push and will only materialize if federal and state funding is available later.

    Review the Transit Plan

    Durham County voters agreed in November to support the tax, and voters in Orange County will decide this November.


  • Wake commissioners spar over transit plan

    June 15, 2012

    Tags: Wake County | commissioners | Paul Coble | Erv Portman | mass transportation | Durham County |light rail

    Democrats on the Wake County Board of Commissioners pushed Chairman Paul Coble and his GOP colleagues Monday on their refusal to allow a July public hearing on a proposed regional mass transportation plan.

    It wasn’t the first time Democratic commissioner Erv Portman made the suggestion, which was voted down in a full board meeting last week. In heated exchanges that continued after the meeting, Coble and Portman went head to head on whether the plan should have a public airing.

    “I think it’s really important that we hold a public meeting at the next meeting, to hear from people both for it and people opposed to the plan,” said Portman, a Cary businessman. “It’s public business, and I think it needs to be on the commissioners’ table.”

    Responded Coble: “We are not going to decide this in a brief period of time. We’re talking about a large amount of money and a large amount of future money.”

    Democratic members reminded Coble that the issue of a regional plan involving Durham and Orange counties has been before the board in various forms since at least 2008.

    Durham voters have said yes to a half-cent sales-tax increase for transit investments. But the county won’t collect the tax until Orange County, which votes in November, and Wake decide whether to follow suit.

    Along with beefed-up bus service right away and light-rail lines 15 or 20 years from now, the Durham and Wake transit taxes also would help pay for rush-hour trains that could roll by 2019. They would serve mostly commuters and students, with 12 stations from West Durham through RTP to the east side of Garner.

    Commissioners Tony Gurley and Phil Matthews, backing Coble, questioned how much public support there is for the plan and how heavily the buses and trains would be used. Their Republican colleague, Joe Bryan, said education and other priorities should come before the transit plan.

    Supporting Portman, Democratic commissioners Betty Lou Ward and James West said the plan is a farsighted investment into the region’s future.

    “I think there’s a tremendous relationship between jobs and education and transportation,” West said.

    Added Ward, “It seems to me as our population grows ... we are going to need to have that mass transportation to relieve the roads.”

    Coble noted several times that Monday’s meeting had been scheduled only for discussion of the county budget. Finally, Coble declared Portman out of order when Portman made a motion for a public hearing on the transit issues.

    “We will get to that, but we are not going to have that debate now,” Coble said. “Anything else on the budget? We are adjourned.”

    Staff writer Bruce Siceloff contributed to this report.

    Read more here:



  • GOP Members of County Commission Delay Residents Right to Vote. Why?

    June 15, 2012

    Wake Co. Commissioners debate transit plan


    A regional transit plan to helpdecrease commute times for drivers across the Triangle is becoming a heated issue between Wake County Commissioners.

    The current plan would connect Orange, Durham and Wake Counties with a system of light rail lines, rush hour trains and increased bus services.

    It would cost $55 million annually, funded by a half cent sales tax increase. A household earning $75,000 annually would pay about $94 per year.

    Durham County voters have approved a sales tax and Orange County voters will decide in November.

    Democratic and Republican Commissioners in Wake County disagree whether voters should have the opportunity to vote on the sales tax increase this fall.

    “I think if we are going to do this, we should do it. If we're not, then we should stop wasting money and time talking about it,” said Democratic Commissioner Erv Portman.

    Portman blames GOP commissioners for “dragging their feet” because they “don’t want it on the November ballot.”

    “This is county business. This should be discussed at the board table in front of the public.”

    While Portman calls the delay “bad government,” Republican Chairman Paul Coble says it would be irresponsible to let voters decide on an expensive plan “when we aren’t even sure it works.”

    Portman is running for Senate and Coble says “political reasons” are not the right reasons to rush a costly transit item onto the November ballot.

    “We need to take the time, have those discussions and make sure we understand exactly what it is that's being proposed,” said Coble.

    Portman says thousands of dollars have already been spent studying the issue over the past decade and all of the studies say the same thing.

    “You have a beautiful place to live, population is going to double. If you don’t do something then you are going to risk destroying your quality of life. Maybe this is the solution, maybe it’s not. But isn’t it time to decide?” said Portman.

    The transit plan projects a 50 percent growth in Wake County’s population over the next 10 years.

    GOP commissioners have previously stated that transit improvements are “priorities” to deal with county growth but Coble says there is no immediate rush.

    “County commissioners will take this topic up. We will discuss it in detail and we will discuss it thoroughly but we will do so at an appropriate time, and in a way that’s appropriate,” Coble said. “Frankly, some members of the commission think that education, public safety and low taxes are far more important priorities especially during a recession.”

    See story with video on NBC17's website.