NC: Burlington Sets Deadline for Municipalities to Make Public Transit Decision

Aug. 20--City officials in Elon, Gibsonville and Mebane have until Oct. 8 to decide whether to join Burlington in its public transportation venture.

All three municipalities received letters from Burlington City Manager Harold Owen outlining the work for the proposed busing system that has already occurred and is still to come.

Gibsonville leaders have already said they were in favor of joining Burlington on the public transit system, but the Board of Aldermen plans to vote in favor of the proposal Sept. 8.

"The board has previously agreed to participate in the system," Gibsonville Town Manager Ben Baxley said. "The only thing that has changed somewhat is they are talking about a regional authority or maybe a local board (as the governing transit body). It looks like they plan to establish a transit advisory commission that would make recommendations to the Burlington City Council."

According to Owen's letter, the Transit Advisory Commission would include membership representing any municipalities that choose to be a part of the system.

Mebane City Manager David Cheek said his board is concerned about the governance body because the city would not have an equal vote, and that it needs more information from Burlington.

"I think we are still interested in working through it," he said. "There are a lot of questions, and honestly, I don't know if they have the answers. ... I don't want to say anything to kill it at the start. I think the idea is probably good to have a bus system go to (Alamance Community College) and across the cities. I think our council supports that idea. As to how it goes about happening, there are a lot of gaps and information and communication that needs to go on between the participating cities."

Elon Town Manager Richard White said he is meeting with Mayor Jerry Tolley to discuss the letter and when it should appear before the board.

"I have received it, and we will be discussing it very soon," White said.

The estimated costs to Gibsonville and Elon are $22,940 and $42,160, respectively, with the costs varying for Mebane and Burlington.

If Burlington pays for the service from the city limits to Alamance Community College, it would cost Burlington $419,080, while it would cost Mebane $135,820. On the flip side, it would cost Mebane $208,320 if it covered the cost of service from Burlington city limits to ACC, compared to Burlington's cost of $346,580.

Burlington city leaders hope the public transit system will be up and running by 2016.

Copyright 2014 - Times-News, Burlington, N.C.

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