Leaders from Atlanta were shocked when they visited Charlotte last week to discover that they didn’t have to wait 2 hours in traffic to get into uptown and people actually wanted to use public transit. From the article,
Charlotte expects 330,000 new city residents by 2030. Instead of continuing past trends of sprawl, Charlotte’s leaders decided to concentrate growth in corridors. A transit plan was designed to serve those five corridors.
For several years, Charlotte worked with business and civic leaders to build consensus for its transit plan. They determined that a sales tax would be the smartest way to raise local money for the plan and launched a campaign to educate voters on the plan.
In 2002 voters passed a half-penny sales tax dedicated to funding the transit plan, as well as a $100 million road bonds referendum.
The 2030 plan includes 14 miles of Bus Rapid Transit (with its own dedicated lanes), 21 miles of light rail, 16 miles of streetcar lines and 25 miles of commuter rail. Charlotte also is heavily invested in its urban bus system. Most buses come every five to 10 minutes. By comparison, many MARTA buses in Atlanta come every 30 minutes or even less frequently.
MARTA CEO Beverly Scott asked Parker how many buses he has in his bus fleet. About 400, he answered.
“We have 609 buses at MARTA, and we are probably four times your size,” Scott said.
Parker said that all transit agencies have to decide whether they want to be a mode of last resort or a mode of choice. In Charlotte, they decided to go after the choice riders, and not just those who had no other options. And what about funding?
In addition to the dedicated sales tax, the Charlotte system gets significant support from the state of North Carolina. The state contributed about 25 percent of CATS capital costs. The state also allocates money for about $13 million to $14 million of the system’s operating costs, roughly 10 percent of the transit system’s budget.
Now that the LYNX Blue Line has been built in Charlotte most of the city wants to accelerate the plans for more rail. The southeast line is one of the best things about Charlotte in only a few months and I can’t wait to see the future of the system