Here’s what “Many” has to say:
Many years ago, when we lived in Boston, I remember what happened when the red line was put in through Cambridge/Somerville. At the time the corridor was filled with moderately priced rentals and housing for people that commuted into Boston by car or bus. The red line morphed those neighborhoods into +million dollar condos. The middle class was forced out to Bedford Ma. and southern New Hampshire, and that resulted in making the congestion and sprawl everyone claimed they were solving with the red line worse. Watching this devolution left a lasting impression of how badly wrong things can go. (http://www.policylink.org/site/c.lkIXLbMNJrE/b.5137373/k.E65E/Transit_Oriented_Development.htm)
Even if TTA were to build a successful LRT (unlikely as that is), the goal should be not to serve the wealthy but to serve the people that rely on Public Transportation. The areas proposed for LRT are already expensive. LRT will drive property values along that corridor through the roof. and as property values and rents increase it will force ridership to move further out causing even more issues as it did in the Cambridge Somerville case.
Does experience tell you developers will build along the corridor without parking? Even with the best of intentions, do you think the political climate would be able to hold that limited parking line against the force of economic development? I for one do not believe it for a moment and people will still drive to this new development and park or the development will fail.
Besides being ridiculously expensive, proposed LRT routes cut new swaths through watersheds rather than using existing routes. This has the effect of stranding existing development areas and further exacerbating issues with the Jordan Lake watershed simultaneously. This plan will also serve to economically abandon existing right of ways and businesses. Greenfield interconnection development is just a plan bad idea.
What attracts and maintains ridership is the look & feel and walkability of the stops as well as the convenience. UNC studied the issue and came to similar conclusions: (http://katana.hsrc.unc.edu/cms/downloads/TTA%20Final%20Report%20-%20PLAN%20823.pdf)
The preferred solution seems simple to me;
1) Use at least some of the monies generated from the transit tax to promote walkability and circulation through development zones county wide, and add major BRT stops there (e.g. Efland/Buckhorn, possibly fixing the issues along Estes and CW, definitely a stop by So. Village and Obey Creek, plan one for the Friday Center etc. and the UNC Hospitals – Hillsboro and Chapel Hill.). This is where land use supports transit and will drive ridership. Enable the use of this transit by providing free parking for BRT, especially for those commuting to work. Do this by placing other non BRT parking further away.
2) Connect these nodes using BRT over existing infrastructure, adding rail style platforms at the nodes and making sure BRT traffic flows through bottlenecks more smoothly than personal auto traffic does today. Go to places people want to go to (PLEASE serve the airport, don’t make the same mistake Charlotte did). Use local transit to provide “last mile” connections e.g. (http://www.npr.org/2013/11/13/243955769/how-a-free-bus-shuttle-helped-make-a-small-town-take-off?ft=1&f=1001)
3) Stop building public infrastructure (e.g. the Library) in places that are not served by public transit, it just adds to the problem. Start with the obvious; serve the medical corridor that is developing along 15-501 between Chapel Hill & Durham rather than bypassing it. Tie the places people want to go together using existing infrastructure. Start planning right of ways that parallel exiting routes and use land use/zoning to accomplish a path for future BRT routes.