The OCCC Supports the Orange County Transit Tax…and So Should You

October 31, 2012

We, the Orange County Cultural Center (OCCC), support the referendum on the
November 2012 ballot in Orange County to create a half-cent sales tax that will fund expanded transit alternatives.

Public investment in expanded rural and county bus service, construction of light rail, and a train station in Hillsborough will create jobs and spur economic and cultural development in Orange County, while also providing low-cost, convenient, and reliable transportation options for workers. The transit plan adds 41,000 hours of bus service in Orange County. This increase, from 200,000 hours to 240,000 hours, represents a twenty percent increase in bus service throughout the county. For transit riders in Chapel Hill or Carrboro, this means a bus system with longer hours of service, more frequent service, and better weekend service. For riders in Hillsborough, it means improvements to local and regional service and new routes from Mebane to Durham. In the first five years alone, the plan will bring weekend service to the Hillsborough circulator bus, a new express bus route from Mebane to Hillsborough to Durham, more hours of on-demand service in the county’s rural areas, and an Amtrak station in Hillsborough.

Our county needs to make a similar investment in our future as did Durham County when it overwhelmingly voted “Yes” this past fall to approve a non-regressive tax that will fund expanded bus service, light rail between Chapel Hill and downtown Durham, and commuter rail between Durham and Raleigh.

Making this investment in public transportation shows that Orange County is serious about being a progressive, forward-thinking community where people want to study, work, and live. Our Triangle region, which is already home to over 1.5 million people, is projected to grow rapidly to over 2.5 million by 2035. The highway congestion problems caused by cars moving within Orange County and between counties for work, school, and travel will only increase in the decades to come if we fail to invest in these sensible transit alternatives. Our current unsustainable pattern of sprawling development and expanding roads and highways creates a culture of automobile dependency and limits the diversity of transportation options.

Cities like Charlotte, St. Louis, and Portland are pioneering investments in regional transit solutions. Durham County has now taken the lead in the Triangle, and Orange County must follow suit to make this plan work. We hope that you, as an Orange County resident, will see the long-term need for expanded transit options, the economic and environmental benefits of making these choices, and the importance of acting now in order to invest in our future.

*After voting for the President, please turn over your ballot, and vote YES for the Transportation Referendum!*

Many thanks to Orange County Friends of Transit http://www.durhamorangefriendsoftransit.org/  and OrangePolitics http://www.orangepolitics.org/  for sharing facts and data to support this article.

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