And the state's asphalt road pavers.
That's what you call a powerful coalition. It marks a sea change in support for legislation to boost transit service in North Carolina.
It was the first test of a bill to set up state structures for funding rural and urban transit, passenger and freight rail service, and improvements to the state ports — but without appropriating state money, yet.
The key part of the legislation would give voters in two Triad and three Triangle counties the chance to be like Charlotte — to approve a half-cent increase in the local sales tax as a source of funds for more buses and new trains.
Mecklenburg voters approved the half-penny tax in 1998 and reaffirmed it by a 70 percent vote in 2007. Since 1998, Charlotte has doubled its bus fleet and tripled its transit ridership.
The money also helped launch a 10-mile light-rail line in south Charlotte in 2007 that is so popular the city already is planning to expand its capacity. They don't have to build more travel lanes -- they just buy more rail cars.
Now we'll wait to see what two leaders of the House Finance Committee have to say about HB 148. Reps. Paul Luebke of Durham and Jennifer Weiss of Cary say they favor more transit service but don't want to rely solely on the sales tax to pay for it. That's unfair to low-income taxpayers, they say.