A couple of rail-related news bits:
Item No. 1: Why hasn't much commuter rail been built in the country in recent years? The Bush administration's Federal Transit Administration had written some requirements for how to calculate such things as projected ridership when submitting requests for federal transit money. It's complicated, but the upshot was that the rules made it impossible for commuter rail -- which goes faster and has fewer stops than in-town light rail -- to compete for the limited federal transit dollars.
That's why the North Corridor transit line that the Charlotte Area Transit System wants to build had that "gap" in its funding plan -- it's the gap where federal funds might have gone, but weren't available. The Triangle Transit Authority in Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill was stuck for the same reason.
Now comes word the FTA has rescinded those old parameters, CATS chief Keith Parker said late last week. He didn't know yet what the new parameters would be or whether new money would be available for commuter rail projects. But it's got to be good news for CATS and the many people who've been hoping to see a rail line from uptown Charlotte to Davidson and even beyond, if Iredell County would cough up some money (not to mention good news for the TTA and our fellow North Carolinians in the Triangle.)
Item No. 2: A new Elon University poll finds 77 percent of North Carolinians would like to see commuter rail developed in urban areas, and 69 percent support regional rail systems.
While 51 percent of North Carolinians oppose collecting tolls to fund
statewide transportation projects, 77 percent would like to see commuter
railways developed in urban areas and 69 percent of citizens support regional
rail systems. Sixty-seven percent of respondents support a state-wide bond
referendum to raise money for transportation projects, while 57 percent of
residents support giving local governments the option of using a half-cent sales
tax to finance local projects. Residents oppose a fee based on the number of
miles they drive annually (74%) and increasing the cost of the driver’s license
renewal fee (55%).