The Cary Watchmen
Independent opinions from experienced businessmen on the policies and finances of the Town of Cary, NC
"Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it."  Mark Twain
Public Transportation

2/6/2010 - Rail Hucksters Coming Back to Cary on February 9th, Hold on to your Wallets!

Coming on the heels of higher fees in our current budget and a recommended 6% increase of property taxes in Cary in FY2012, some members of the Cary Town Council are supportive of a 1/2 cent 'local option' addition to our sales tax to fund more public transportation that few now use. While a 1/2 cent  increase may not sound like much, it represents a 6.4% increase to our already high combined sales tax rate of 7.75% in Wake County. And for what? The money is to be used for railroad and light rail service that few now use and that will have virtually no impact on road congestion. In fact, if Charlotte's ill-fated light rail system is any indicator, we can expect huge cost-overruns, year-long massive construction sites and increased congestion due to more frequent interference between vehicular traffic and rail.  Remember too, that every $1 ride in our own C-Tran bus line costs taxpayers $23; why should we expect anything different for taxpayer-funded rail? We urge the Town Council to Just Say No at the upcoming Rail Transportation Work Session scheduled for February 9th. The last thing we need in the Great Recession are higher taxes for something few people need!

1/14/2010 - Recommendations to improve Cary's C-Tran bus service
(submitted as letter to Town Council and staff by Cary Watchman Ray Czarnecki)

The Cary Watchmen have audited the C-Tran project and find that it is not an efficient way to provide transportation in the Town (See our reports below).  We hope that the following will be of value to you in plotting out the future for Transportation in the Town:

  • The Town must provide transportation for seniors to do food shopping, Mall shopping and social events in a timely manner, in a clean comfortable environment and at a patron cost that is commensurate to customers’ economic situation.  If you pay for service, no matter how small, you increase self esteem and get customer feed back.
  • Shopping for many seniors is a social occasion where information is exchanged and catering to this need may multiply customer satisfaction. They need friends.
  • There are other community entities ( Churches, Senior Living et al.) that have volunteer transportation services  which may be of value to the Town
  • We must recognize that Cary is not a metropolitan center with a concentration of business or industry downtown. We are a residential community with lots of sprawl. The automobile is our principle means of transportation. When our population density increases substantially then Cary may be ready for some form of public transportation
  • We suggest that the Town should rethink the entire public transportation issue breaking up the program into two parts, Senior Transport and General Public. This should be done regardless of the impact on Federal and State support.
  • In regard to seniors we suggest that we inventory where seniors live to determine if there are clusters of customers. We might provide two types of service(a) Curb to Curb on demand at a cost of $5.00 each way (b) Daily schedule of fixed route with only 2 trips/day available ( Morning and Afternoon) @ $1.00/day
  • In regard to general public, we believe that we should try to have 2-4 vehicles with 15- 25 plus seats which operate on a reservation basis, early morning and early evening. Each vehicle would make only 2 trips in the morning and 2 in the early evening. Fare would be $5.00 or more each way (with a free copy of the N&O and/or free evening coffee).
  • After a six month period we could evaluate and adjust.

11/1/09 - C-Tran - Does it have a future?  A Cary Watchmen Position Paper

After a seven-year effort, ridership remains miniscule and the cost to taxpayers is excessively high. This Position Paper looks at the facts and provides some recommendations for the future of public transportation in Cary.

10/24/09 - Ray takes a bumpy, $184 ride to the mall on the C-Tran bus

Ray Czarnecki and his wife wanted to see first hand what it's like to ride the C-Tran bus. They left their car at home and went shopping by C-Tran to the Cary Town Center Mall. It was quite a ride, and not at all what they expected, especially at the cost of $184 to taxpayers. (2 people X 4 rides X $23/ride).  Read Ray's story here.

10/21/09 - That $1 ride on Cary's C-Tran bus costs taxpayers $23 !
The little-used C-Tran bus is racking up huge costs to taxpayers in the form of local, state and federal subsidies.  The few regular riders receive an annual benefit of nearly $11,000, tax free. That's enough to buy them a new car each year.

The Cary Watchmen have obtained data from the Town of Cary regarding the ridership, revenue and expenses for C-Tran in FY2009:

Cost to rider per ride: $1.00 (50 cents for seniors or disabled during off-peak hours)

Number of fixed-route rides: 103,894

Expense for fixed-route rides: $2,368,311

Expense to Town per ride: $22.80/ride 

Estimated regular riders (250 days/year): 208

Annual expense to Town for a regular rider: $11,386

Annual tax-free benefit for a regular rider: $10,837

For details on C-Train, see here

COMING SOON: Ray Czarnecki and his wife take a wild ride on the C-Tran to go shopping in Cary. The trip costs taxpayers $184.  You won't believe what they learned!

9/4/09 - Get The Facts About Light Rail
They're at it again: the local light rail lobby just won't give up pushing an unpopular, wildly expensive, obsolete mode of transportation onto taxpayers. This Op-Ed piece appeared in the Apex Herald in response to their article from 9/3/09 on a recent trip made by Apex Town planners and funded by the light rail lobby.