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Archive for March, 2008

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

College basketball fans on the LYNX after the NCAA game at Bobcats Arena

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I understand why UNCC (UNC Charlotte) gets confused for UNCCH (UNC-CH) but the other way around? Interesting name confusion in an article from the local news on UNCCH in the Final Four,

The Tar Heels advanced to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament.
Thousands of basketball fans charged their way into Bobcats arena
Saturday night and watched UNCC defeat Louisville.

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In response to this question in my environmental economics class:

Mass transit critics frequently point out that while automobile use is
subsidized, transit is subsidized at even higher levels. Riders often
pay substantially less than half the operating costs. Many communities
offer even some transit services for free (like the Gold Rush at UNC
Charlotte and in Uptown), or at near free fares, to entice people onto
trolleys, buses, and trains. Is this an example of imperfect government
intervention preventing the free market from influencing transportation
choices?

Every road and freeway built that doesn’t have a toll
is a subsidy for driving. While road proponents point out that gas
taxes pay the price for roads, these taxes mainly cover costs of
freeways.
There are still many shortfalls and subsidies. A society dependent on
cars requires cities’ general funds to pay for local streets, traffic
lights, policing, and the many other costs of the automobile.
Externalities generated by vehicle transportation (pollution,
opportunity cost of driving and deaths from automobile accidents to
name a few) are almost entirely negative, increasing the net cost of
roads to society.

As the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) and
cities subsidize mass transit they are making alternate transportation
choices, and specifically mass transit, cost effective and competitive
in order to compensate for the billions of government dollars used in
subsidizing roads. Local or Federal Government actions like subsidizing
walkable communities and building transit systems focused on rail may
seem expensive because a total and all-inclusive price tag can be
assigned to these projects. Price tags which aid the perception that
the cost is significantly more than the benefits or alternatives like
road-building. When the true cost of a road project is evaluated with
an understanding of externalities, the mass transit or walkable
infrastructure investments become the most efficient solution despite
the government dollars required.

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A few days ago I hit 200,000 visitors to my blog! Thanks for visiting and I hope you’ve enjoyed the random posts I make over the last few years.

As you can see, I’m pretty excited about it

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Now that Tim Ernst is taking over for me at the end of the month as the new UNC Charlotte student body president, I wanted to post all of our campaign videos in one place… because they are awesome. If anyone knows of campaign videos from other student body president campaigns, please post them in the comments section.

Tim is the new student body president at UNC Charlotte, and has been featured in two years worth of election videos including my campaign last year.

A video from the SGA Public Relations Committee

Ernst-Pierce for Campus Safety

Ritchie-Ernst for UNC Charlotte’s Future

The Making of Ritchie-Ernst for UNC Charlotte’s Future

Vote Justin Ritchie for Student Body President

Vote Ritchie-Ernst in the runoff!

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It is so great to be out of my old apartment complex

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Zero Degrees!!!

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