RALEIGH (WTVD) --The sales tax is increasing in a few months to bring Wake County's $2.3 billion transit plan to fruition.
The ballot referendum barely passed Tuesday, with 53 percent of voters in favor.
Wake officials say they believe the plan will be transformational for the region.
"If we want to continue to attract the best jobs and the best employees to work at those jobs, we're going to have to have a region that has transportation options," said Wake County Board of Commissioners Vice Chair Sig Hutchinson.
Bus service is going to quadruple and infrastructure is going to be built.
There are three area of mass transit improvement.
First, bus service is increasing. It's going from 17 to 83 miles across Wake County. There will be service every 15 minutes.
Work on this starts in two to three years.
Secondly, bus rapid transit will be introduced in four to six years. Specially designed buses with raised platforms are being manufactured, and there will be dedicated bus lanes on local roads so bus operators can bypass traffic and keep their routes on schedule.
And finally, a brand new commuter rail will be unveiled. Tracks will run from Garner to downtown Raleigh and continue to Durham. There will be stops at N.C. State University, Cary, Morrisville, and RTP.
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Construction gets underway in six to eight years.
The plan is a waste of money, says the Wake County Taxpayers Association.
"We don't need three times as many empty buses on the street. And when I say three times as many empty, the ones we got on the road now are generally empty buses," said Russ Capps of the WCTA. "What we need is additional traffic lanes, we need potholes patched; we need maintenance."
The Association campaigned and tried to get the referendum rejected.
"(County officials are) counting on a whole bunch of federal money that may not come about. They're counting on state funds that may not come about and they're counting on fares from the fare boxes. But empty buses don't produce fares," said Capps.
"This is good for us," Hutchinson countered. "Even though sometimes people can't quite see it yet, over time they will see that this will allow us to double in size while improving our quality of life."
The new sales tax goes into effect in April.
There are some exemptions. Folks buying medication or groceries won't pay extra.
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