Wake voters cast ballots on public transportation referendum

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Wake County voters have a chance to have their voices here on a sales tax referendum at the end of the ballot.

Signs around Wake County either say to vote for the public transportation referendum or no to the tax hike it would bring.

The half-cent sales tax increase would help fund the Wake Transit Plan, including a 37-mile commuter rail connecting Garner to Raleigh to Duke University and points in between.

“There’s something in this plan for everyone,” said Wake County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson. “For basically the price of a cup of coffee, you can quadruple bus capacity, give you a brand new technology in bus rapid transit and 37 miles of commuter rail.”

He said the tax increase would equal less than $3 a month for a typical family.

But others say it’s a bad plan.

“It’s not a good plan. It’s ill conceived,” said Ed Jones with the Wake County Taxpayers Association.

There also is a planned expansion of bus service throughout the county, including a new feature called “bus rapid transit.”

“’Bus Rapid Transit’ is basically a blend between bus and rail. So they’re larger buses. They can run on dedicated corridors. The stations are much more upfitted so it looks more like a rail station,” Hutchinson said.

Morrisville Mayor Mark Stohlman is a co-chair of “Moving Wake County Forward,” a group in favor of the referendum.

“It’s necessary because the state and local governments like Morrisville are really doing all that we can to improve transportation options. We can just do so much by building additional roads, additional capacity,” said Stohlman.

The Wake County Taxpayers Association opposes the plan and the sales tax increase before the voters.

“We have a lot of people here and we have a lot of people with cars. We don’t feel that unless the bus service is dramatically changed and it’s improved that you’re going to get people out of their cars,” said Jones.

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