Editor’s Note: The original version of this post indicated Orange had already approved the tax while Durham voters will see it this fall.
Raleigh transportation planners are talking up a new short-term plan now that a half-cent sales tax to pay for public transportation is off the table for Wake County this year.
Planners have been making the rounds to community groups to talk up a revised plan that would bring big changes to the city’s bus system.
Members of the Wake County Commission rejected an idea to put a half-cent sales tax on the ballot this November. Orange County will vote on a similar tax this fall; Durham County voters approved the tax last year.
Transit planners aim to create a unified transit system across the Triangle with commuter rail and more bus service, paid for with the sales taxes in Wake, Durham and Orange counties.
Meanwhile, Raleigh transit planners now say they want to take a two-pronged approach to dealing with the city’s growing transportation needs without the additional income.
According to David Eatman, transit administrator with the city, the first goal is implementing a short-range transit plan and improving existing transit lines. The second is moving forward with a long-range plan, including commuter rail and someday light rail, the first of which would have been funded by the tax increase, if passed by taxpayers.
Eatman said that the short-range plan is a complement to the eventual long-range plan and can be implemented faster.
“No matter how much we spend on rail, the system really depends on buses to feed it and to provide circulation,” he said. “A train looks at a bus as its connection point and I look at pedestrian access as my bus transfer point.”
Phase one of the plan involves scheduling changes, such as compressing late-night and early-morning services to allow for 30-minute headways in high-traffic areas and adjusting holiday bus schedules. More than 800 bus stop signs will also be replaced.