Former mayor Pat McCrory took time off from running for governor to head south and talk up light rail. You tell me if this comports with reality:
Two speakers during Wednesday morning’s Metro Atlanta Northern Crescent Transit Summit — one a light rail system CEO and another a former mayor and current political hopeful — said economic development will happen if plans for a light-rail system through Cobb and Gwinnett counties becomes a reality. …
…Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte, N.C., mayor and a candidate to be the next governor of that state, said a once blighted and crime-ridden area of Charlotte has now become a highly frequented arts district nicknamed “Noda” with increased housing prices. …
…McCrory said the rail system has specifically increased spending by Charlotte residents in their 20s and 30s, as the downtown area became an entertainment center with the development of the transit system.
“You go there at one or two in the morning, Wednesday through Saturday night, and it’s packed. The streets are more crowded than New Orleans, and a lot of those people are getting on the bus line,” McCrory said.
Charlotte’s transit system, called Charlotte Area Transit System, includes a bus network that McCrory said he and other officials made sure was just as clean, safe and evenly marketed as the light-rail system, LYNX, which became operational in late 2007.
And he believes a transit system in metro Atlanta would work.
“If you do it right,” McCrory said. “You can learn lessons from yours and other people’s mistakes and also from what was done right. It’s a process of many steps, just as building roads is a process. Many roads are built correctly and many are built incorrectly. But if you get roads and transit working together, it’s a good investment.”
McCrory would not say whether the availability of a transit system was the “nail in the coffin” for many businesses to locate to or stay in Charlotte, but he did say it became a major recruitment tool.
“We could use it to show that we were doing something in anticipation of growth,” McCrory said. “If you wait to react to growth when it happens, you’ve waited too long. But I never apply one thing to jobs and companies coming or going. Transit was just a part of the package, but a very important part. When we competed against cities such as Jacksonville, Houston, L.A. for industry, I would bring out our transit plan. Even for companies that weren’t looking to locate near the transit line, I would still show them the plan, and they would say: ‘We like this a lot even though we wouldn’t be on the transit line because we see you’re planning for the future.’ It helps as a recruitment tool, I can guarantee you that.”
McCrory likened the battle to get public support for a light rail system to a business trying to sell a product, and said that if Atlanta does nothing, competitors such as Charlotte and Phoenix will begin to win jobs and companies.
When asked what he felt Charlotte would look like today had the transit system not been built, McCrory said: “We’d have some corridors that would be much more blighted, and we wouldn’t have a choice but to do something.”
Think that pretty much speaks for itself. If North Carolina Republicans nominate this guy again they’ll deserve everything they get.