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CATS Long Term Transit Plan - Silver, Red, Airport Lines

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2 minutes ago, elrodvt said:

I've seen them stack trains for a couple Hornets games. But not nearly enough times.

I think the opening of the BLE ended CATS ability to stack trains for arena events -- all the track between the two maintenance facilities is active (other than the non-rev streetcar spur -- have they used that for train parking?). I haven't been to an arena event since the Checkers moved so I am a bit out of touch.

5 minutes ago, elrodvt said:

Obviously they can hire more drivers. But the vehicles is troubling. Why is that, do they have too few "engines" or maintenance is too heavy?

Dunno the cause. Back in the Fall when they had their mechanic shortage they would frequently need to run single car trains at peak (something they try to avoid). When I ride by the North service yard at peak there is usually only one train set (two vehicles) in the yard. I don't know how many spare units they keep at the South yard during peak but, based on the use of single unit trains in the fall, it can't be many.  Having said that, the FFGA certainly would have required them to have enough vehicles (plus spares) for 5 minute service at peak so I really am confused.

The original 100 series vehicles are nearly 15 years old, so they will start to need mid-life overhauls soon. Ordering some backups is going to be necessary to keep service smooth. 

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If CATS and LH are not setting aside land for a future line to the River District, then we will have major problem down the road.  I would not advocate building that line now, but it needs to be planned for at this moment.  

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15 hours ago, pgsinger said:

If CATS and LH are not setting aside land for a future line to the River District, then we will have major problem down the road.  I would not advocate building that line now, but it needs to be planned for at this moment.  

Well seeing as there has been zero discussion of rail to River District in all the presentations so far, that should show us exactly where that development is headed. Auto centric surburbia that will need any future rail shoe horned in long after the fact, at higher cost and longer timeline, on a compromised route. Same old story. 

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On 4/30/2019 at 4:41 PM, Desert Power said:

Meh.  The River District seems poorly planned and connectivity to Gaston county should be a bigger priority IMO.  It would have to be a spur off the main line which isn't a great design.

I agree on poor connectivity planning.  I disagree on the rest.  Spurs have worked well in a number of cities.

On 4/30/2019 at 8:59 PM, elrodvt said:

Spurs seemed to work fine in Denver fwiw.

Agreed, and STL whose second line is effectively a spur off the first.  Also look at DC which has several lines that pair up for periods then split towards the end of the line (Orange & Silver, Silver, Blue & Orange, Blue & Yellow).  They do not appear like spurs on the map but functionally, they are.  

On 4/30/2019 at 9:14 PM, XRZ.ME said:

funding for main line haven't been solved. Spurs would be a few decades later.

Agreed...but that doesn't mean the planning should not be done now in connection with land taking and zoning.  I know this is wishful thinking, but fully and firmly committing to an overall plan would help tremendously in numerous aspects.

On 5/1/2019 at 8:14 AM, Matthew.Brendan said:

Well seeing as there has been zero discussion of rail to River District in all the presentations so far, that should show us exactly where that development is headed. Auto centric surburbia that will need any future rail shoe horned in long after the fact, at higher cost and longer timeline, on a compromised route. Same old story. 

Ugh...I agree.

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If you plan your development to be transit oriented and the transit didn't get build or service is not reliable....

Car centric doesn't have this kind of risk.


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Cars and roads don't just go away when you develop smartly for transit, but there's a big difference between smart design (ahead of time, not as an afterthought) for many modes of transportation, versus typical sprawling surface lots in front of each business, no real density, etc. 

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22 hours ago, XRZ.ME said:

If you plan your development to be transit oriented and the transit didn't get build or service is not reliable....

Car centric doesn't have this kind of risk.


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It just faces the sure thing of traffic, and unwalkable neighborhoods.  Transit when built into the design (and is designed for transit use) helps a neighborhood work well, and even if the transit isn't built the opens space can still be useful.

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^ Semi-related, I really wish that developers would think about how their projects would change the WalkScore in their neighborhood. It would be even better if improvements to WalkScore were a factor in getting financing.

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9 hours ago, Merthecat said:

The NC House's proposed budget would remove language capping state contributions to light rail or commuter rail at 10%:

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article229940729.html

Assuming I'm reading this correctly, this is promising news for cities, such as Charlotte, looking to build new transit lines.

You are, and it is. However the NCGA has shown itself to be an incredibly unreliable funding partner for transit. This budget move is little more than theatre at this point since there are no big transit projects in the state on the horizon*. I would fully expect the NCGA to return to funding shenanigans the moment CATS makes its  request for $2 billion in state contributions for the big bang. 

I really hope Lewis is aware of the possibility of a rope-a-dope funding move by the state — flakiness from Raleigh was the direct cause of death of DOLRT (they might have worked around the duke issues were it not for an arbitrary state funding deadline). Lewis is only going to have one opportunity for a local transit tax hike, if the state flip flops after our local increase has been voted on then we will be F’ckd.  If CATS can make meaningful (and cost effective) connections to Gaston, Union and Cabarrus then this risk can be reduced slightly.  While none of us have seen any of the new transit funding plans I really do see a risk of a repeat of the original transit tax fate -- the flow of money gets choked and CATS is left with only enough for one project rather than everything initially promised (in this case it would be the Silver Line and nothing else).

* Commuter rail between Mebane and Clayton (or maybe Selma) via Hillsborough, Durham, RTP and Raleigh is probably the next big project to get moving. Since it will be built entirely on state-owned right of way, touches some ruralish areas, serves five counties, and will contribute $$ to the NCRR it will likely get more bipartisan support than most transit projects. IMO single-county urban transit is still going to face tough funding conditions  in Raleigh.

Edited by kermit
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16 hours ago, NDL said:

Everyone's clamoring for a line through Ballantyne, yet the City has shown no interest in incorporating rail into an integral part of the next Ballantyne, which is the River District.

"NCDOT said that 485's service levels are poor, but Matthew's/S CLT commuters cannot access rail into the River District"

BRT on 485 would allow someone from Matthews to commute to both Ballantyne and River District much faster than riding a train via Uptown.

Edited by southslider
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Capture.thumb.jpg.d5cf0441b7861cf08438b48c12880e18.jpg

North of BLE, I would say it can first go east to 485 and NCRR station, then go to Charlotte motor speedway, then Concord Mills mall and finally Concord Airport (an option until it have more flights per day)

If google satelite map is not too outdated, there are still lots of woods for tracks to sneak in.

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4 hours ago, kermit said:

At the risk of digressing into fantasy transit league I sketched up some of the spurs I had in mind for the post big-bang era.  Hopefully the color scheme is self-evident (Blue Line, Silver Line (looks white) and Streetcar / Gold Line (looks yellow). Red represents extensions to those three lines, including the Blue Line extension to Pineville / Ballantyne.  Since its just fantasy don't pay too much attention to the details of the routes, there are very few dedicated right of ways for these lines, so much of this sketch assumes taking some car lanes from existing 4 lane roads.

  • River District Spur: 7 miles (cost $500 million ?). Provides development opportunity for Carolina Golf Club (prepare for the death of golf), serves several office clusters around Billy Graham (incl Sealed Air). Access to airport air cargo ops and proposed development there and River District. Lack of development in area and potential to use some slivers of airport property could lower costs. Transfer station to Rock Hill Commuter rail near Sealed Air.
  • Camp North End, Graham street, Derita spur.: This one feels a little forced, but assuming Camp North End sees continued success with office development it really needs good connections to uptown. The Graham st industrial corridor is a dense collection of job. Once I ran the line to I-85 for a park and ride it was just a stones throw to Derita, so.... Replaces inner portions of the original Red Line Commuter Rail.  1 mile to Camp North End, 3.2 miles to I-85, 4.5 miles to Derita -- easily more than $500 million unless there are multiple Norfolk-Southern miracles (and the Red Line is abandoned).

These two spurs off the Silver Line could be run as a set so trains would travel from River District to Derita and back. Call it the Orange Line. Those wanting to travel to Belmont or Matthews would need to change trains at Gateway (or other shared station). The downside of this routing is that it would not have a transfer w the Blue Line and it would not provide added Sliver frequencies  from Graham, east.  The Orange Line would create HUGE development / redevelopment opportunities

  • South Park spur: (1.75 miles to PRSC, 4 miles to South Park -- SUPER expensive, certainly more than $1billion due to land acquisition costs). IIRC South Park is the second largest office district in NC and significant value could be unlocked if they can reduce parking. The Woodlawn route would allow PRSC to be served, but a Tyvola route might be easier. Important connector to existing employment but I don' see many growth / redevelopment / density increasing opportunities here. 
  • University Research Park spur: (2 miles to WF CIC, 3.5(ish) miles to TIAA -- could be quite cheap with combination of street running and donated URP land, $350 million ish). This is a huge but diffuse employment center. But even Research Triangle Park as been struggling with this low-density model. So the status quo in URP is unlikely to hold -- transit access will be the key to higher-density redevelopment and they should be motivated to make it happen

These two spurs could also be operated as a set of trains sharing the central portion of the Blue Line. Call it the Green Line. Green Line trains would double frequencies on the core portion of the Blue Line which would make Blue-Silver transfers at 9th street much easier.

Streetcar Spurs:

  • CMC / Dilworth Business District: (1.3 miles, $150 million (current street car project is $50 million per mile)). One of the largest employment districts in town.
  • Tuckasegee / Freedom: (2.4 miles, $150 million). Activate the warehouse cluster around Seviersville plus spur potential redevelopment / densification along long-neglected Freedom

Doubling frequency on the Five-Points to Kings drive portion of the Gold Line will be a good thing

 

If I get my act together I'll find out the proportion of Mecklenburg jobs are within 1/2 mile of these lines. Off the top of my head the only big employment clusters that get left out are:

  • Arrowood area (Microsoft etc)
  • The Westinghouse manufacturing / warehouse / scattered office areas
  • Ayrsley
  • Arboretum
  • Cotswald (LRT on Woodlawn near Monroe seems natural but after that its really tough to find a route)
  • Northlake and all points north

Would also like to see a BLE-e to the NCRR / 485 for a commuter rail interchange and park and ride station.

While the strategy treats N Meck like crap it does provide decent job access within Charlotte's city limits, lots of opportunities for densification, access to the largest single shopping district in the state.  WAG (wild ass guess) price in last year's dollars $2.6 billion, a billion less if you skip South Park. Price does not include Btyne or the Silver Line which are part of the big bag.

Don't take any of this too seriously, its just rainy day rambling.

 

image.png.78f75f0e5f8c009540ca00335c68e00d.png

Love it, though I wish the SouthPark spur was a branch from the silver line starting at Matthews go to SouthPark, merge on the blue line up until 7th street station. So a routing from 7th street, through uptown and SouthEnd branching off to SouthPark, merging with the silver line terminating at Matthews 

 

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20 hours ago, southslider said:

BRT on 485 would allow someone from Matthews to commute to both Ballantyne and River District much faster than riding a train via Uptown.

And it might get funded. Nice interim solution. But it needs to be true brt.

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11 hours ago, AirNostrumMAD said:

Love it, though I wish the SouthPark spur was a branch from the silver line starting at Matthews go to SouthPark, merge on the blue line up until 7th street station. So a routing from 7th street, through uptown and SouthEnd branching off to SouthPark, merging with the silver line terminating at Matthews 

 

...or how about connecting the SouthPark and River District spurs, for a contiguous east-west line intersecting with the Blue Line--and eliminate the River District spur portion from the Silver Line?

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18 hours ago, kermit said:

 

image.png.78f75f0e5f8c009540ca00335c68e00d.png

I hate to say it, but the routing of your River District leg is far, far, superior to the current Silver Line routing.  Heck; imagine if the line could stop at the Outlet center as well; this would give Millenials in South End, UNC students, etc., rail access to what could be a major shopping and employment district to/for them.

***

As someone who loves his (personal vehicle) truck, I can't help but acknowledge the fact that society is trending towards alternative forms of transportation.  The City really dropped the ball in routing the Silver Line, and I can't help but feel that a major policy objective was to run it into Belmont - all other consequences be damned.

A Silver Line into the planned River District, combined with the area's natural water feature, could conspire to come out with a development that would *really* put Charlotte on the map.
 

Everyone loves the River Walk in San Antonio, and the Reedy River/Falls Park in downtown Greenville.  Why can't we have something like that, but better, in Charlotte?

 

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^ The routing to the River District in the map would miss the airport. CATS felt like if they headed west they HAD to provide an airport stop. 

Edited by CLT2014

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^ and there is a HUGE benefit to connecting to other counties, even if just one stop. Getting to Gaston would have been basically impossible on the River District route.

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