Wake county commissioners are being called out on public transit—again.
This time it's Raleigh colleges and universities insisting commissioners stop blocking a half-cent sales tax referendum that would bring light rail and expanded bus service to the Triangle.
In a letter obtained by INDY Week, and mailed to county commissioners today, William Peace University president Debra Townsley writes, "Our fast-growing region simply cannot afford to wait any longer in laying the critical infrastructure for a dynamic future. We believe this is the year to let voters decide on transit."
The letter was written on behalf of Cooperating Raleigh Colleges, a group which includes North Carolina State University, Meredith College, Shaw University, St. Augustine's College and WPU.
The Republican-led Wake county commission is the only government body in the Triangle that continues to block the transit tax. Last year, Durham County and Orange County citizens passed half-cent sales tax referendums to expand public transit. The Raleigh City Council has also shown support for the transit tax.
Wake county commissioners refused to even debate the transit tax last year or take up a measure that would allow the referendum.
The light rail portion of the plan would create three corridors. One would run from Durham to Chapel Hill. Another would extend from Durham to Cary, Raleigh and Garner. The third would connect Apex and Wake Forest.
In her letter, Townsley says that expanding transit will be beneficial to students and unemployed people, as well as entice graduates to stay in the area.
Many progressives also argue that development will boom along the rail corridors once the transit plan is in place. However, commissioner Paul Coble has called the transit plan a "boondoggle."