Michael Sanera, a policy director for the John Locke Foundation, urged the Raleigh City Council on Tuesday not to support a transit plan that he called misguided and too expensive.
But Sanera wasn't afforded the same speaking privileges that he got in a similar appearance this month before the Apex Town Council. In Apex, Sanera was given equal time to Wake County Manager David Cooke and TTA Director David King, who are traveling around the county to build support for their transit blueprint.
Sanera got three minutes in Raleigh, the same as anyone else who shows up to the citizens hearing portion of the meeting. And it came two weeks after the City Council heard from Cooke and King.
Sanera said he was disappointed that he wasn't allowed to make a rebuttal, and he questioned whether Raleigh leaders are open to opposing viewpoints.
The difference in treatment isn't a surprise. As a suburban-minded community with a fraction of the transit riders in Raleigh, Apex has been skeptical of the pro-transit movement. That's why the Apex council was willing to hear from Sanera, a right-leaning transit critic who has assembled a presentation that he calls "a devastating critique" of the transit plan.
The John Locke Foundation says it agrees with the need for improved bus-based service. However, it says the plan "as now proposed, is not technically or financially feasible and is unreliable as the basis for decisions regarding transit investment in Wake County."
Raleigh is eager to move forward. The city wants Wake County commissioners to commit to a referendum, ideally on the November ballot, on a half-cent sales tax for transit improvements.
The transit blueprint is divided into two parts: What the county is confident it can pay for, and what the county can only hope for.
The core tier would expand local and commuter bus service and build a rush-hour, 37-mile commuter rail service from Garner to Durham. It would also provide amenities such as park-and-ride lots, sidewalks, signage and bus shelters, benches and other improvements.
The enhanced tier would build light rail service from downtown Cary through downtown Raleigh, up to Millbrook Road in north Raleigh. The route would cover 13.9 miles.
City Council members listened to Sanera's presentation but did not ask any questions.