Wake transportation plan to triple bus service in 4 years

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A major referendum passed Tuesday will start to impact Wake County residents in the next couple months.

The transportation plan will increase bus service and add a commuter rail to better connect Raleigh to surrounding areas.

An increase in sales tax will fund the plan.

“What people can expect to see is a slight increase in their sales tax, which will cost the average Wake resident about 10 cents a day,” said Karen Rindge with WakeUP Wake County.

The tax only applies to consumer goods.

Food, rent or utilities will not be affected.

The sales tax also means anyone visiting Wake County and spending money is helping pay for the transportation plan.

Bus riders like Leroy Cauley are happy to see the referendum pass.

He says more buses and routes are needed, especially for the morning commute.

“It’s packed. There’s a lot of people here waiting to go to work. They have to catch the bus early,” said Cauley.

“We’ll be able to increase frequencies for some of our bus lines even within a year,” said Matt Calabria, a Wake County Commissioner.

Joe Milazzo with the Regional Transportation Alliance says after four years the bus service will triple in Wake County.

“In terms of jobs in this county, within 10 years you’re going to have 40 percent of every job in county not just on the bus line, but on a rapid transit line with service every 15 minutes or better all day. That’s an incredible level of service and availability for our community,” he said.

Those in the business community say the transportation plan is helping guide their futures as well.

“Having reliable transportation that’s available across the county for our associates to come downtown when they need it and where they need it is going to be huge for us,” said Steven Goldsmith with Red Hat.

And, some corporations are using the plan as a recruiting tactic.

They are assuring potential employees the Triangle will have transportation similar to that in bigger cities.

“We have employees who live in Durham, who live in Chapel Hill who are commuting all the time. And so while the bus piece of it is a really important short-term, the increased commuter rail, the proximity to Union Station and the proximity to Moore Square with continued bus growth is going to be really important to us as a region,” said Ashton Smith with Citrix.

The consumers could see that sales tax increase is April 1, 2017.

The public will have input on where new bus stops should go and which routes need more attention.

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