UNC-Charlotte professor of transportation studies Dr. David Hartgen dissects the proposed Wake County Transit plan in this N&O piece. Like most centrally-planned boondoggles, this transit plan includes heavy costs with little benefit – and forces many to subsidize the commuting plans of a few.
Light rail service would cost $33 per rider per trip and commuter rail $92 per trip, way above federal standards and not competitive for getting federal funds. For commuter rail, that’s $47,000 per rider each year! Suburban taxpayers would pay two-thirds of the cost but get a much smaller share of service. Worse, the plan implies a 50 percent increase in fares that would hit current riders hard, but it ignores the region’s transit-dependent riders who use transit for key mobility needs.
The bottom line is that the plan proposes to spend over 40 percent of the region’s scarce transportation dollars on less than 1 percent of commuters, at a huge price and with no visible impact on congestion, air quality or land use. As now proposed, the plan is not technically or financially feasible and is unreliable as the basis for decisions about transit investment in Wake County.
Furthermore, the proposed $4.6 billion price tag for the plan is almost guaranteed to be grossly understated, as commuter rail and light rail projects notoriously come in way over initial cost estimates (just ask Charlotte).
To access Dr. Hartgen’s full report on the Wake County Transit plan, click here.