Report from Transportation Team Meeting
Last Wednesday night 16 members of the Transportation Team met to hear updates about our campaign to continue and expand the SmartRide micro-transit program in Zebulon and Eastern Wake County.
Together we celebrated a significant update: the Zebulon Board of Commissioners met in early January and unanimously approved a resolution to continue the SmartRide program at current levels of service. You can watch the recording of the meeting here.
The Town of Zebulon has joined forces with the towns of Wendell, Knightdale, and Wake County to support a Community Funding Area Program (CFAP) application that, if approved, will continue SmartRide services within a redrawn service district focused on Eastern Wake County. The total cost of the program is $537,727. The breakdown of the cost share is as follows:
- CFAP 50% match: $213,639
- Wake County: $110,449
- Zebulon: $71,213
- Wendell: $71,213
- Knightdale: $71,213
This is great news, and the Zebulon Board of Commissioners deserve credit for making this decision! However, continuing the program is only half of the battle. As we know, the demand for the SmartRide exceeds the current capacity of the program. Expansion of the program will be necessary, but the capacity of Zebulon and Eastern Wake Towns to afford expansion is limited.
Increased investment from the Wake Transit Plan is necessary in order to substantially expand the SmartRide program. The Wake Transit Plan is funded by a 1/2 cent sales tax which was approved in 2016, and currently the plan has a operating and capital fund balance exceeding $500 million.
This year, the Wake Transit Plan will be undergoing a significant update to determine how best to allocate resources moving forward. This process will involve a public engagement period in April to help shape priorities. This represents a major opportunity for Eastern Wake leaders and their supporters across the County to advocate for increased funding for programs like SmartRide.
Last Wednesday night the Transportation Team ratified a strategy to organize participation in this public engagement process. Specific dates for public workshops and other engagement events will be made available in late February. In the meantime, all who support the expansion of SmartRide in Eastern Wake are asked to do the following:
1) Participate in one or more of the public engagement events in April;
2) Bring 2 people with you to one or more public engagement events;
3) Attend the ONE Wake Annual Meeting on March 7 to organize additional turnout.
The immediate next steps are to 1) RSVP for the ONE Wake Annual Meeting (link here); 2) identify two other people who have an interest in this work and who will pledge to attend an engagement event in April.
Please find below sample language for newsletters / conversations to help you identify two other people who want to help support this campaign:
"How would you spend half a billion dollars? This year all Wake residents will have a say in how to spend hundreds of millions in taxpayer funding for public transportation projects across the county. This is an especially important conversation for residents of Eastern Wake who want to expand transportation options like the popular SmartRide program which serves over 13,000 rides per year to help residents connect to grocery stores, medical appointments, and social services.
We need your voice! Please tell _____________ if you want to participate in public engagement on this issue, which will occur in April. Our goal is to get at least 100 Eastern Wake residents and their supporters involved. More information is available here: https://www.onewake.org/smartride
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