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

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9 minutes ago, Madison Parkitect said:

Would this Charlotte to Atlanta train be Amtrak speed, or faster? I'm out of the loop on it.

Don’t know, but it’s 79 mph to 125 mph Miami to Orlando and (I think) 125 mph to Tampa.

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Okay,  got off the plane from Portland Saturday afternoon.  After waiting, seriously, 45 minutes for a bus to uptown, I rode one that said "Tyvola Station".  Fine, it got me to Tyvola.  Once there, it was another solid 20 minutes to wait for a train to town.  Meanwhile two pass heading South. 

As a couple of out of towners followed me, I was careful to describe how,  usually on weekdays things run like clockwork.  Was I lying?  I really do want to see this thing work.

Once on the lightrail, a drunken, thugish looking fellow gets on and starts harassing someone.  Fortunately, that someone handled things just fine, but the impression of my new friends from out of town was something along the lines of , 'what did you get us into?'

FWIW,  Portland at least has giant "EMERGENCY" buttons in every car.  All we have are silly little posters that say call "911" if something seems amiss.

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it:  We spend billions on light rail and skimp on policing them.  Really, what are a couple of 30-40k salaries in the way of permanent security folks walking the cars in light of BILLIONS spent on the rails themselves???   Riding the rails should be fun and pleasant, not a 'watch where you look and be careful experience.'   I'm really getting to the point of not taking my daughter on it anymore, and we're huge fans of it.

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I have witnessed some odd encounters too on the light rail - people harassing riders and trying to "start stuff." In the times I've witnessed it, folks aren't even asking for money, they're just not right in their heads and are making people uncomfortable. You're used to it in NYC subways, but the experience feels a little out of place in Charlotte (which is a good thing). 

You and my dad must be the only people I know who insist on taking the bus to and from the airport. He says in his experience, it's mainly workers/locals utilizing the express bus from the airport to uptown, and few travelers. 

I always lyft because the prices are so low. 

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Don't be surprised if you see a letter to the Editor soon. 

And, yeah, the situations I saw weren't where someone was looking for money. They were just being belligerent.  

As far as riding the bus, at this point it seems a lot safer. There's driver with a uniform onboard....even if he can't do anything.   That's all it would take.  A uniform.

Edited by Windsurfer
adding a sentence

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30 minutes ago, Urban Cowboy said:

I have witnessed some odd encounters too on the light rail - people harassing riders and trying to "start stuff." In the times I've witnessed it, folks aren't even asking for money, they're just not right in their heads and are making people uncomfortable. You're used to it in NYC subways, but the experience feels a little out of place in Charlotte (which is a good thing). 

You and my dad must be the only people I know who insist on taking the bus to and from the airport. He says in his experience, it's mainly workers/locals utilizing the express bus from the airport to uptown, and few travelers. 

I always lyft because the prices are so low. 

I travel every other week and take the Sprinter to the airport!

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7 hours ago, LKN704 said:

Transit is the great social equalizer.

Transit isn't causing people to act in a certain manner. People who "start stuff" on the train probably are also just as likely to "start stuff" on a sidewalk, in a shopping mall, etc.  We all live in these safe, confined spaces that we often don't realize what occurs outside these spaces. Stepping into a public space that is used by everyone just allows us to witness events/things that occur in society. Folks really need to remember that when riding transit. Public transit is for everyone.

Since moving to DC last August, I have seen so many things on the Metro it isn't even funny (more so violence than anything) and I was physically assaulted on the train the first week of moving to DC. None of that has kept me of the train. On the contrary, it has essentially helped me check my privilege. 

And for the folks in the above situation who were from Portland...riding the light rail in Portland was the only time in my life that someone ever came up to me and told me they would pay me $20 if I peed in a cup for him so he could use it for his drug screening. 

*jazz hands*

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I learned a couple of interesting things last night - 

As traffic has increased in Charlotte, it has made things far much harder for CATS to maintain headways. For the 16 South Tryon, it's route has gone from 48 minutes to 72 minutes in the course in just five years, which meant CATS could no longer maintain a 15-minute headway without adding buses and drivers. Without the budget to do so, they reduced the schedule to 20-minute headways. They also simplified the route to try and run it more efficiently. 

The 9 Central Ave (still the busiest line in the system) has had similar problems, but to maintain its 10-minute headway CATS had to allocate additional buses at an extra cost of $300k a year. In the 9's case, the shear volume of riders wouldn't allow them to reduce the headway - and they still can't legally run articulated buses on Central.

Finally, CATS and CDOT are working on the next steps of the "Envision my Ride" studies. They are working on plans to pilot bus-only lanes/queue jumping. They haven't decided on a route/location yet, but we should hear more about it soon. 

 

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1 hour ago, Dale said:

*jazz hands*

 

9 hours ago, LKN704 said:

Transit is the great social equalizer.

Transit isn't causing people to act in a certain manner. People who "start stuff" on the train probably are also just as likely to "start stuff" on a sidewalk, in a shopping mall, etc.  We all live in these safe, confined spaces that we often don't realize what occurs outside these spaces. Stepping into a public space that is used by everyone just allows us to witness events/things that occur in society. Folks really need to remember that when riding transit. Public transit is for everyone.

Since moving to DC last August, I have seen so many things on the Metro it isn't even funny (more so violence than anything) and I was physically assaulted on the train the first week of moving to DC. None of that has kept me of the train. On the contrary, it has essentially helped me check my privilege. 

And for the folks in the above situation who were from Portland...riding the light rail in Portland was the only time in my life that someone ever came up to me and told me they would pay me $20 if I peed in a cup for him so he could use it for his drug screening. 

So just accept it and go on.  I don't get that.  We don't have to make a commute in a train miserable.  

Again, we spend BILLIONS  building this thing and wonder why ridership is down. Unlike DC or NYC,  Charlotte has very easy roads to drive.  That's lightrail's competition.  Right now, with my own 7 year old daughter, I wonder if it's worth traveling.

Paying courtesy folks in uniform a meager 40k a year would not only encourage ridership (tourists would love it) but would provide some employment.  They could answer questions and, heaven forbid Charlotte becomes this flexible, sell tickets to folks having to rush and jump on the train without having to wait 5 minutes for the kiosk to spit out a ticket.

Just sit there in the train and take it then.  

 

 

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9 hours ago, LKN704 said:

Transit is the great social equalizer.

Transit isn't causing people to act in a certain manner. People who "start stuff" on the train probably are also just as likely to "start stuff" on a sidewalk, in a shopping mall, etc.  We all live in these safe, confined spaces that we often don't realize what occurs outside these spaces. Stepping into a public space that is used by everyone just allows us to witness events/things that occur in society. Folks really need to remember that when riding transit. Public transit is for everyone.

Since moving to DC last August, I have seen so many things on the Metro it isn't even funny (more so violence than anything) and I was physically assaulted on the train the first week of moving to DC. None of that has kept me of the train. On the contrary, it has essentially helped me check my privilege. 

And for the folks in the above situation who were from Portland...riding the light rail in Portland was the only time in my life that someone ever came up to me and told me they would pay me $20 if I peed in a cup for him so he could use it for his drug screening. 

This has to be satire.

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18 minutes ago, DCMetroRaleigh said:

Yeah, here in DC, Metro harassment and uncomfortable encounters is a normal part of our commutes, public interactions. You learn how to look down and ignore 

I never seen or witnessed Metro harassment or arguments/fights. Not saying it doesn't exist and I see the incidences on the news now and then. But I rely on metro exclusively. I have seen harassment on CLT's light rail. Rarely. Maybe 5 times within 2 years. One where a creepy guy was trying to talk to younger girls (either middle or high school). The light rail stations in CLT were a little sketch too sometimes (due to those instances where you're the only person in the dark)

And to the poster who mentioned taking the bus from the airport to the blue line (I think Tyvola?).... That... is not a viable option. I've taken it before (my intended destination being CLT > Tyvola Station > Arrowood Station > Arrowood bus. It took hours. Hours. This was back when I was a college student and so I was being cheap by relying on public transportation after getting back from some interviews in DC. Uber for $9 or so could've gotten my home in maybe 15 minutes or less.

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1 hour ago, Windsurfer said:

So just accept it and go on.  I don't get that.  We don't have to make a commute in a train miserable.  

Again, we spend BILLIONS  building this thing and wonder why ridership is down. Unlike DC or NYC,  Charlotte has very easy roads to drive.  That's lightrail's competition.  Right now, with my own 7 year old daughter, I wonder if it's worth traveling.

Right, and you have the privilege of driving. A lot of people don't have that. Those people that are "starting stuff" may be economically disadvantaged and aren't the position of owning a car and are forced to rely on public transit. It irritates me when folks from other walks of life (who can afford to drive, etc) start using it and immediately start complaining about other people on it, etc. 

 

23 minutes ago, AirNostrumMAD said:

I never seen or witnessed Metro harassment or arguments/fights. Not saying it doesn't exist and I see the incidences on the news now and then.

I would say it's usually (but not always) isolated to specific lines and areas. Everything that I ever witnessed was on the GR line. The worst was last year on Halloween night a group of about 15 teenagers got in my car at Mt Vernon Sq and started attacking this man, first by calling him various names and then striking him in the head. Some were doing the attacking, others were filming the incident. When the train pulled into Shaw they got out, he followed them and started fighting back, and a brawl formed on the platform. 

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1 hour ago, LKN704 said:

Right, and you have the privilege of driving. A lot of people don't have that. Those people that are "starting stuff" may be economically disadvantaged and aren't the position of owning a car and are forced to rely on public transit. It irritates me when folks from other walks of life (who can afford to drive, etc) start using it and immediately start complaining about other people on it, etc. 

 

I would say it's usually (but not always) isolated to specific lines and areas. Everything that I ever witnessed was on the GR line. The worst was last year on Halloween night a group of about 15 teenagers got in my car at Mt Vernon Sq and started attacking this man, first by calling him various names and then striking him in the head. Some were doing the attacking, others were filming the incident. When the train pulled into Shaw they got out, he followed them and started fighting back, and a brawl formed on the platform. 

 Of course I have alternatives. That's my point.  So does 90% of Charlotte. If you want public transportation to become a great "equalizer", then make it safe enough and pleasant enough for EVERYONE to ride.  Otherwise, those of us who want to do our part for the environment, promote public transportation, show that we're with the common man (whatever),  will find something within their power to use something else.  Doesn't the poor person who doesn't have an alternative means have rights too?  Why should they suffer bullies too?  You make it sound like everyone should climb aboard and be harassed, well just because poor people have to too.  

The poor deserve safe spaces too.  Do you disagree?

What  I want to know is, Is Lewis a regular rider?

1 hour ago, AirNostrumMAD said:

 

And to the poster who mentioned taking the bus from the airport to the blue line (I think Tyvola?).... That... is not a viable option. I've taken it before (my intended destination being CLT > Tyvola Station > Arrowood Station > Arrowood bus. It took hours. Hours. This was back when I was a college student and so I was being cheap by relying on public transportation after getting back from some interviews in DC. Uber for $9 or so could've gotten my home in maybe 15 minutes or less.

That was me.  I waited 45 minutes for the bus to uptown. It never came, but as soon as I saw one that said "Tyvola" I jumped on it.   So did some other folks (strangers) who had tired of waiting.  At least it was cheap.

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Woohoo!

The Siemens Viaggio coaches are really nice and a will be a definite upgrade to the current smelly coaches that look like they should have been retired in the 80s IMHO.

Hypothetically, wouldn't more modern coaches that have a "tilting" mechanism (I don't know much about trains, but I am assuming the Viaggio coaches tilt) allow for a faster travel time?

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2 hours ago, LKN704 said:

Woohoo!

The Siemens Viaggio coaches are really nice and a will be a definite upgrade to the current smelly coaches that look like they should have been retired in the 80s IMHO.

Hypothetically, wouldn't more modern coaches that have a "tilting" mechanism (I don't know much about trains, but I am assuming the Viaggio coaches tilt) allow for a faster travel time?

I don't believe they have tilt capability. Even if they did I think its unlikely NS would allow tilting coaches on the NCRR due to buff-strike risks since freight trains don't tilt.

Edited by kermit

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The 8/28 MTC meeting agenda is available here: https://charlottenc.gov/cats/about/boards/MTC Agenda Package/MTC-Agenda-Package-190828.pdf

  • Fare and pass validators (tap in) should be tested on the Blue Line "later this summer or early fall." This will allow for verification that UNCC and City employees actually purchased the passes which are attached to their IDs (its just an honor system at the moment for UNCC faculty and staff). This should enable streetcar transfer rides and the validators will allow for 10 ride passes to be used on the Blue Line for the first time.
  • I am not sure I understand/believe this quote: " As to give you a feel for what's happening with UNC-Charlotte, we just finished our first year, year-to-year in March. We did surveys on the system during the semester. And it turns out that during main semesters, 10 percent of the light rail ridership is UNC-Charlotte students and faculty and staff. We did about 730,000-740,000 rides with UNC-Charlotte both on the train and the bus in that year "
  • Fare inspectors will begin using a wand to validate taps and passes in late 2019 / early 2020
  • Jason Lawrence reported on Ballantyne LRT extension planning. Its a ramblely story, with little new information. He did say they are likely to start express bus service from Btyne Corporate park to Sharon Rd West station when 485 express lanes open (2022)
  • Interesting quote on BLE extension talk: " MAYOR EDWARDS (Pineville): When we did the study in Charlotte, the governor from South Carolina was there, and he wasn't there for the lunch. And his idea is to continue that down 521, where that goes. I think that's part of it. If it goes to Ballantyne, it goes to -- it's growing exponentially as fast as anyplace else. Got to plan ahead. "
  • Lots of angst about park and ride capacity on the BLE-E (ugh)
  • Discussion of the Cabarrus county long-range plan
Quote

But the important things for us is here -- this line here is sort of our High Capacity Transit Option A. That's for The Grounds at Concord, the old Phillip Morris property that the mayor has talked about. A second spur -- this is Charlotte Motor Speedway here.

Second spur would be going across Burton Smith Boulevard and tying into Concord Regional Airport. The airport's preparing to undertake a study to look at expanding. And, likely, when that all settles out in the next few years probably looking at 10 to 12 terminal public air service and going from 50 flights a week to potentially 50 flights a day. We're looking at a massive change over and above the impact that we already have in Concord Mills for.

And the other thing is we have an existing rail line, and it's not owned by Norfolk Southern. I would hope that that would get sort of a bit of a laugh if not a cry. But the important thing is it's not necessarily DOA. And perhaps -- and this may be a new idea. It may not be. You may have already discussed it prior to my time being here. But if the red line can occur for the next 30 years if they really dig in on that, perhaps the North Carolina railroad would be a more amenable partner and we could look at really – in reality, it could extend to Salisbury. It could extend to High Point. The sky would be the limit in terms of what we could possibly take on there.

....

The total cost for us [Cabarrus County only] -- even for you all, this is probably a decent number. We're looking at $836 million for the bus, the demand response side only. High capacity transit, again, it's a huge ballpark estimate depending on what mode we went with and combination and how far we can build out -- 1 and a half to 4 billion. It's a huge sum. Just like you're challenged with trying to figure out how to pay for your expansions at your scale how would we do this?

  • Its late and I am cranky but I did NOT get the impression that Cabarrus has their crap together on rail transit
  • Blue Line ridership was up nearly 14% yoy (July) (wow!)
Edited by kermit
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40 minutes ago, kermit said:

The 8/28 MTC meeting agenda is available here: https://charlottenc.gov/cats/about/boards/MTC Agenda Package/MTC-Agenda-Package-190828.pdf

  • Fare and pass validators (tap in) should be tested on the Blue Line "later this summer or early fall." This will allow for verification that UNCC and City employees actually purchased the passes which are attached to their IDs (its just an honor system at the moment for UNCC faculty and staff). This should enable streetcar transfer rides and the validators will allow for 10 ride passes to be used on the Blue Line for the first time.
  • I am not sure I understand/believe this quote: " As to give you a feel for what's happening with UNC-Charlotte, we just finished our first year, year-to-year in March. We did surveys on the system during the semester. And it turns out that during main semesters, 10 percent of the light rail ridership is UNC-Charlotte students and faculty and staff. We did about 730,000-740,000 rides with UNC-Charlotte both on the train and the bus in that year "
  • Fare inspectors will begin using a wand to validate taps and passes in late 2019 / early 2020
  • Jason Lawrence reported on Ballantyne LRT extension planning. Its a ramblely story, with little new information. He did say they are likely to start express bus service from Btyne Corporate park to Sharon Rd West station when 485 express lanes open (2022)
  • Interesting quote on BLE extension talk: " MAYOR EDWARDS (Pineville): When we did the study in Charlotte, the governor from South Carolina was there, and he wasn't there for the lunch. And his idea is to continue that down 521, where that goes. I think that's part of it. If it goes to Ballantyne, it goes to -- it's growing exponentially as fast as anyplace else. Got to plan ahead. "
  • Lots of angst about park and ride capacity on the BLE-E (ugh)
  • Discussion of the Cabarrus county long-range plan
  • Its late and I am cranky but I did NOT get the impression that Cabarrus has their crap together on rail transit
  • Blue Line ridership was up nearly 14% yoy (July) (wow!)

Some quote for concord Airport in the pdf

 The airport's preparing to undertake a study to look at expanding.  And, likely, when that all settles out in the next few years probably looking at 10 to 12 terminal public air service and going from 50 flights a week to potentially 50 flights a day.  We're looking at a massive change over and above the impact that we already have in Concord Mills for.

 

If concord airport can do 50 flights per day. I would say extending BLE to that airport is much better than the old factory.

 

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Anyone fully read the article on Citylab about BRT in Indianapolis?  Is there anything CLT/CATS can learn from BRT with Signal prioritization?  Seems like Indy is going all out.

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42 minutes ago, Hushpuppy321 said:

  Seems like Indy is going all out.

Mostly because their legislature banned Indy from pursuing rail transit of any kind. (the reasoning was purely ideological)

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