Despite widespread objections to the plan throughout Orange County, the County Commissioners voted 5 – 2 to move forward with the light rail plan.
Those of us in Affordable Transit for All studied the issues and did our homework. Unfortunately for all or us, a Board majority did not address the financial and structural deficiencies that had been raised by their own consultant as well as hundreds of citizens.
Orange County Commissioners Earl McKee and Renee Price deserve our thanks for providing a strong voice for Orange County’s citizens. We are proud of them and believe they will be ultimately proved correct in their assessment that the Commission majority voted for a plan that does not serve the transit needs of Orange County and will cost us dearly.
We are also proud that through our efforts and others, you wrote, listened and spoke out for public transportation, social justice, and a fiscally responsible plan. Our commissioners received hundreds of personal and impassioned letters, and more than 200 people from every corner of Orange County signed the letter from Affordable Transit for All within 12 hours! Here’s the archive of emails to the commissioners – they are inspiring! Read the letter that summarizes the deficiencies in the plan with over 200 signatures.
The most immediate price for this ill-advised decision is that both Chapel Hill and Orange County taxpayers spend more of their budgets on bus service not provided by the transit tax. The two drivers in this increased burden for the taxpayer are: (1) the minimal support for additional bus service specified in the agreements just approved by the County Commission, and (2) the diminishing federal support for local transit. We need look no further that the Town budget just presented by Chapel Hill Town Manager Stancil to the Town Council which will require more tax payer support for Chapel Hill Transit. Read news article here.
- The Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) will receive and evaluate the Durham-Orange Light Rail proposal over the next 30-60 days. During that time, the FTA will decide whether or not GoTriangle can proceed with spending $70 million of local funds for the engineering phase of the project.
- In 2018, the project might or might not receive up to 10% of state funding. According to Assistant County Manager Travis Myren, the light rail project plan would be difficult to implement lacking state support.
- The FTA will not decide whether to fund the project until 2020. If they fail to do so, Orange and Durham Counties are out the $100 million spent. That federal decision could be influenced by many factors including the ones reported in this article. Here’s that report.
We anticipate many more discussions about the future of transit as the process unfolds. Affordable Transit for All is committed to continue to advocate for a rational transit plan for our county residents and businesses.
Thank you for your support!