TTA “Lite Rail:” What a Mess

An interesting article in Sunday’s Raleigh News and Observer, written by Republican Political Strategist Carter Wrenn (Talking About Politics).

Sometimes I think the folks over at the Triangle Transit Authority must be living in "Cloud Coo-Coo Land." This morning there’s a picture in the newspaper of a spiffy "mock-up" they’ve built — sitting in the middle of a Raleigh warehouse — of the engine of the train they want to build to bring "lite-rail" to the Triangle. Only this isn’t one of those little model trains. It’s a full-size replica of a real train car, and I’m guessing, but I’ll bet it cost at least $25,000 of taxpayers’ money.

[Raleigh] Mayor [Charles] Meeker has saddled taxpayers with a $200 million convention center and a $20 million downtown hotel, but that’s small potatoes compared to what he wants to spend on the TTA. We’re talking about a cool billion dollars here.

Carter puts it nicely. As for me, I find this whole lite rail plan to be one of complete and utter FUBAR proportion. And Libby Dole is not helping.

Back when federal officials tightened their standards for giving away money for rail projects, Sen. Elizabeth Dole spoke out for it. But now she’s decided it’s unfair to apply those standards to the TTA and joined Congressman David Price to seek an exemption for the TTA. (Mayor Meeker must be tickled to death.)

What’s peculiar, and encouraging, is 15 local Republican leaders (in the State House) have publicly differed with Dole and sent her a letter — coordinated by Apex Rep. Paul Stam — calling the train project a "boondoggle" and urging her to oppose the funding.

I previously asked folks to write both Dole (r) and Price (d). It is understandable that Price would like the plan, but Dole is playing the part of a Democrat in this, too. So, what can you do?

If you live in North Carolina, write to Senator Wayne Allard, the Chairman of the Senate Subcommitte on Housing and Transportation. Ask him to get the Committee to vote against the exemption, and any funds for this travesty of a public transportation but no one will ride it and it will cost shitloads of taxpayer money to subsidize it thanks Elizebeth Dole for pushing pork plan. Shame that I have to suggest writing to a Senator from Colorado over this.

You can also try Sen. Richard Burr. Maybe he will act like a Republican in this issue.

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2 Responses to “TTA “Lite Rail:” What a Mess”

  1. Bob says:

    I’m a proponent of mass transit, but I think before a community builds light rail they should start with bus rapid transit (BRT). BRT is a bus route that runs on dedicated bus lanes, separated from regular roads. This is much cheaper than light rail and since it runs on asphalt, the lanes can also be used by emergency vehicles if needed. Later, if the system is successful, tracks can be installed and a base ridership will already have been established and the right-of-way already in place. If the service fails, the routes can be used as freight delivery routes or converted to bicycle/pedestrian trails.

  2. I see your point, and I won’t disagree. The ability to do that in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area would be next to impossible. ANd, the regular Triangle Transit Authority buses are subsidized by the cities and state.

    While a rail system would be a good thing, the plan that they have is horrendous. It would barely serve anyone who might consider riding it.

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