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The Eastern Ministerial Alliance and ONE Wake have been leading a campaign to continue and expand the popular SmartRide micro-transit program which last year provided more than 13,000 rides that allowed low income residents in Eastern Wake County to access grocery stores, medical appointments, and social services. 

This campaign is connected to a top ONE Wake priority on Public Transportation that came from last year’s listening campaign, and has two goals: 1) to continue the Smartride Program at current levels beyond the expiration of a federal grant in June 2024; 2) to expand the program to serve the growing demand for the program across Eastern Wake. 

Last fall, the EMA and ONE Wake organized the largest, non-partisan assembly in Zebulon’s recent history with all candidates running for the Zebulon Board of Town Commissioners and over 100 supporters. Every candidate pledged to help continue the SmartRide program, if elected. 

We have an exciting update on this campaign: on January 4, 2024 the Zebulon Board of Commissioners held a special meeting to approve a resolution to continue the Smartride program in partnership with Wendell, Knightdale, and Wake County: a total investment of $538,000 per year. 

At the end of last year, we weren’t sure whether this program would continue or not. Now we can rest assured that this crucial program will remain in place. 

We’re not done yet! Our work this year is now to expand the SmartRide program. We have a major opportunity: the Wake Transit Plan is undergoing a substantial update in 2024 to determine how to spend an operating and capital fund balance that exceeds $500 million. This is an excellent opportunity to ensure that these funds are more equitably distributed to underserved communities across the county. 

The Wake Transit Plan Update will include a significant public engagement period starting in April. This period will include in-person workshops, pop up events, and online surveys, and will shape how the Wake Transit Fund is invested across the county. 

The ONE Wake Public Transportation Team’s proposal is to deliver at least 100 ONE Wake members to participate in this engagement process and to lift up our interests around expanding Wake Transit Funds in outer municipalities like Zebulon.