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Charlotte leaders 'nowhere near' bond referendum to fund transit projects

On Flashpoint, a Charlotte council member and candidate for council discuss future of transit.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It's unlikely Charlotte voters will get to vote on a penny sales tax increase to fund transit projects in November, as city leaders originally hoped.  

"We are nowhere near getting this on the bond referendum," Dimple Ajmera, city council member at large, said.

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Before voters could approve the sales tax increase, city leaders would first need the approval of the North Carolina General Assembly. The transit plan comes with at least a $13-billion price tag.  Twenty percent of the revenue generated from the tax increase would go to non-transit allocation like roadways and greenways. The other eighty percent would go to transit projects, which include buses and the rail system.  

"We need funding to address our reliability and efficiency issues." Ajmera said. "Our public transportation system that we have is not reliable."

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The issue has become front and center a month before the primary for city council races.

"I take the Gold Line frequently, and it's almost always late," David Merrill, republican candidate for city council at-large, said.

Months ago, the city's Gold Line streetcar expanded but has been plagued by worker shortages and delayed schedules.  Merrill said council needs to make long-term plans, while also improving the city's current transit system.

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"We need to improve our buses. We need to increase the frequency they arrive at their stop with better planning," Merrill said.

Ajmera said the newly elected council will need to start their terms focused on engaging in regional transit stakeholders like the towns in northern Mecklenburg County, the site of a potential Red Line rail line.  

"For next year, our focus should be on building coalitions, on building allies on these important initiatives, because this initiative is going to help our entire region not just Charlotte," Ajmera said.

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW SUNDAY AT 11 A.M. ON FLASHPOINT, ONLY ON WCNC CHARLOTTE.

Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly.
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