January 30, 2012
RALEIGH — Wake County’s transit plan is neither technically nor financially feasible, and it’s unreliable as the basis for decisions regarding transit investment in Wake County. A new John Locke Foundation Policy Report reaches that conclusion.
JLF is touting the report as Federal Transit Administrator Kenneth Rogoff tours proposed transit lines today in the Triangle.
The Wake County transit plan “contains numerous optimistic assumptions, errors of fact or omission, and calculations that are at variance with standard practice in the transit industry,” according to report authors Dr. David Hartgen, emeritus professor of transportation studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and president of The Hartgen Group, and Thomas Rubin, an Oakland, Calif.-based consultant specializing in public-sector accounting in projects involving transit, highways, and schools.
The plan released in November 2011 calls for a new half-cent sales tax, a $10 increase in vehicle registration fees, increased vehicle rental fees, transit bonds, increased state and federal funds, and higher rider fares. Proposals would double existing bus service, add new commuter rail service between east Garner and Durham, and add light rail service between Cary and Northeast Raleigh.
Hartgen and Rubin recommend that an independent group familiar with the transit industry and Wake County transit service redo the plan. Other recommendations include placing Wake County’s plan in a regional context, refocusing attention on transit-dependent citizens, and fully exploring options such as smaller vehicles and privatization that would hold down costs.
“This report raises significant questions about the viability of Wake County’s transit plan,” said Dr. Michael Sanera, JLF Director of Research and Local Government Studies. “Wake County officials owe it to taxpayers to address these serious issues before committing significant resources to a plan that appears unlikely to work.”