Elon Town Council voted to begin operating Link Transit within the town of Elon on May 22. The town will spend $3,152 this fiscal year to operate the free-to-ride public bus service and set aside $28,347 for next fiscal year. This is a pilot program, and Mayor Emily Sharpe said after seeing how many people in the town use the program, the council will assess if they want to continue the service.
“We continue to hear how thankful people are that we're considering this,” Sharpe said. “We've gotten emails, we’ve gotten calls, we’ve heard during our community meetings. Now let's make sure that people use it and that they understand, if there's zero ridership between now and the fiscal year next year, there should be serious conversations about this not continuing.”
During the April 4 town council meeting, the council voted to approve the interlocal agreement between Link Transit and the city of Burlington to operate with Elon. The council also voted to approve the new, mixed use development of Parc Northwest. This development had been approved last summer and had to be approved again after the developers submitted a voluntary annexation petition to the town for the land parcel. The council also set a date for a hearing for the fire district.
John Andoh, Link Transit manager, clarified the role of Link compared to Alamance County Transportation Authority. Currently, ACTA will do door to door pick-up for residents of Alamance County free of charge. Peter Murphy, ACTA executive director, said ACTA is currently free to all residents because of funding that was available from COVID-19 pandemic relief.
The initial interlocal agreement to approve Link Transit within Elon stated that ACTA would now only function in areas that Link did not make stops in, or in disability-based trips where Link would be less convenient. This section was not included in the approved agreement, as the council did not want to limit people’s options and change what they are used to seeing.
“It's a great service, and it’ll work for a lot of people,” Murphy said. “But I just would not restrict ACTA from providing some services. … There's a lot of people that count on us.”
Andoh said Link provides the same service in Gibsonville and is basing some of what they expect to see in Elon on what they have already seen in Gibsonville. In Gibsonville, Andoh said they make about 50 paratransit trips per month providing door-to-door service for people with disabilities who would otherwise not be able to utilize the service.
The approval of Parc Northwest came after being brought to the council previously over the summer, going through the planning board, public hearings and the Technical Review Committee four times. The development follows what was previously approved and was presented by Lori Oakley, planning director.
Oakley said the planning staff recommends approval of the proposed major development plan as it meets the goals of the Envision Elon 2040 plan. Some of these goals include expanding housing options, organizing development around a system of open space and encouraging mixed use development that includes office space, residential space, shopping and entertainment.
The council also set the public hearing to discuss a change in Elon’s fire district tax code for April 4. Town Manager Rich Roedner said this increase in tax code is to account for inflation and new improvements in the fire station. The council is looking to create a revenue neutral tax rate for the fire district with an inflation rate of 9%. The next town council meeting will be 6 p.m. April 24 in town hall.