Duke has days to decide whether to move forward with light rail. Without Duke, Durham will not have an efficient transit system to help Duke students, employees and all residents share in Durham’s prosperity.
If Duke does nothing, more cars will make more traffic jams. Buses will keep trying to squeeze through congested roads to and from our downtown station. People will wait at parking lots hoping to get to work on time.
Who loses, if we do nothing? The Duke employee who can barely afford to keep a car running and pay for parking. The parent who commutes 2-4 hours/day on two buses to and from childcare, then two more buses to and from work at a restaurant serving Duke students.
Durham’s growing fast. More than 20 people a day and 7,000 people a year move here, many attracted by Duke. On average, new Durham residents earn $10,000 a year more than current residents. That extra $10,000 means more cars and higher housing prices. People who must move further out to afford housing will need to drive more.
What can Duke do? Support light rail as the backbone of an efficient transit system. People can hop on light rail, instead of sitting in traffic jams. A Duke employee can catch a cross town bus at any light rail station, instead of waiting at a parking lot.
Duke is already investing in affordable housing. Transit is the other investment that will improve economic opportunities for all of us. Affordable housing in development around every transit station allows Durham residents of all incomes to live just a short walk to transit.
Now’s the time to talk with Duke leaders. We need to invest in light rail, buses, and affordable housing. Then all of us can live and prosper in Durham.
Lorisa Seibel, Former Durham City Council Member