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Why do we need to keep the Transit Sales Tax?

for Efficient Mass Transit

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Why Do We Need to Keep the Transit Sales Tax?

It is important to people living in the Charlotte/Mecklenburg area that we retain the half-cent sales tax earmarked for transit. This is true whether you are a transit rider, or drive your car and never use public transportation. Why? Let us try to explain this to you.

Why not repeal the transit sales tax?
o 60 to 70% of the money collected from the sales tax currently is used to operate the present bus system. If that revenue is lost a sizeable increase in property taxes is about the only alternative available to make up for the lost revenue.

Why should I care about transit if I drive to work?
o Transit will make your drive easier. Despite what anti-rail, anti-transit people say public transportation will help forestall ever increasing congestion. Our South Corridor light rail line will offer a 25 minute ride from one end of the line to the other when it opens. 50 years from now that ride will still be 25 minutes. How long will your same trip take on I-77 50 years from now, or even 20 years from now? As congestion gets worse on I-77 even more drivers will switch to light rail.

Wait a minute. Why should congestion get worse? You just told me light rail will take people off I-77. Shouldn't light rail make all the traffic go away?
o Transit experts never said light rail would make all the traffic go away. That is something an anti-rail activist dreamed up a few years ago in a desperate attempt to make light rail look bad. What transit people said is light rail will provide a clear choice over driving, and many people will use it, including many new to public transportation that now drive their cars.

If congestion is going to get worse, even with light rail, why did we spend so much money to build it?
o Would doing nothing or just continuing to run buses on congested South Blvd. make things any better? Of course not! Not building light rail, or building some cheap substitute such as a busway, would only make congestion far worse. Charlotte's population is growing rapidly, and car ownership is growing at an even faster pace. Light rail's ability to remove drivers from the road will be largely cancelled out by ever more cars moving onto our highways. That is simply the price every community pays for rapid growth.

Alright, maybe keeping the transit sales tax will keep my property tax from going up. Maybe light rail will take some cars off the road and give me a choice over driving my car, but are these the only reasons you have for keeping the sales tax and supporting rapid transit? I need more if I'm going to vote to keep the tax.
o There are plenty of other reasons as well. Gas prices are high and getting higher, and although they may go down from time to time, the only certainty is that they will continue to climb upward in the future. Charlotte's population is growing increasingly older and more transit dependent. Have you ever thought about what will happen when you no longer can drive? That time is coming for all of us. Good public transit will allow us to stay active and be independent. How about our air quality? You don't think it really matters? It does! Charlotte has come dangerously close to violating federal clean air standards. If that happens the federal government could cut off funding for future road construction. It could also seriously impact development in the Charlotte region. Also, how about the impact on our property values from continually widening our streets to accommodate more and more vehicles. Sooner or later this is going to have a negative effect on our whole quality of life.

For all the above reasons and many more we need a good public transportation system in the Charlotte/Mecklenburg area. A healthy system badly needs the funding that the half-cent transit sales tax provides. Now is not the time to turn back the clock on something as vitally important to our future! We ask you to vote NO to the repeal of the transit sales tax at the referendum this November.