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CATS Long Term Transit Plan - Silver, Red Lines


monsoon

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In the past few days, President Elect, Obama, has unveiled the rough outline of his economic stimulus package, a massive proposal that is expected to include money for light rail projects. Does anyone have any thoughts about what the impact might be here in Charlotte.? We don't have many details yet, but one would think it might be very good news for the NE line. Perhaps it could end up being something that would accellerate the timetable a bit. Also, based on recent interviews, I know that Keith Parker is planning to try and get federal help for the streetcar and commuter line as well.

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In the past few days, President Elect, Obama, has unveiled the rough outline of his economic stimulus package, a massive proposal that is expected to include money for light rail projects. Does anyone have any thoughts about what the impact might be here in Charlotte.? We don't have many details yet, but one would think it might be very good news for the NE line. Perhaps it could end up being something that would accellerate the timetable a bit. Also, based on recent interviews, I know that Keith Parker is planning to try and get federal help for the streetcar and commuter line as well.

The good news is that Obama will probably be the most pro-urban President we've ever had. The bad news for Charlotte is that the stimulus, in all likelihood, is only going to cover projects that are ready to go with a few weeks or months, so the BLE will not be among those. I believe the south line platform extensions or pedestrian bridge over I-277 could be eligible for funds if they are ready to go almost right away. I have heard the number of projects is in the $18-30B range nationally, but most are road projects. Longer term, Obama has said a comprehensive energy plan is a top priority, and sustainable transportation must be a key component of that strategy. I would expect a very receptive federal partner for mass transit projects over the next four years.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I almost missed it, but CATS has a number of public meetings this month (some have already passed) to present changes to bus routes. It looks like they are proposing some pretty significant changes to several routes, especially on the south side. Some routes are getting shorter, some longer, and others are disappearing. From express and local routes to village riders and circulators, everyone is getting a little something. The changes would go into effect in February.

All of the meetings are here: http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/CATS/R...it+Meetings.htm

Of everything listed, the changes to the Gold Rush lines are the least impressive. The Orange Line would "no longer operate south of Morehead," and the Red line will not, as I was hoping, extend to Midtown/CPCC. They would also decrease service frequency between lunch and rush hours to 15 minutes. Given how terrible they are at spacing the trolleys, the frequency change will hardly be noticeable.

The changes to 12 (South Blvd), 36 (Midtown) and 59 (Scaleybark/Marsh) make some sense. 12 will no longer end at Woodlawn station but will extend all the way to Carson station, providing unbroken bus service to the whole corridor. It will fill the gap left by 36, which will end service at East/West Blvd and no longer run down South. 59 will cease service on Marsh Road (unsurprisingly). I'm not really sure who their target audience is for the 36 at this point, as it would only serve to connect East Blvd to Midtown. I guess its in the same awkward position as so many of the other "circle" routes that don't actually go Uptown.

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This memo went out to City Council yesterday detailing CATS proposed service cuts to make up for a projected $9M budget shortfall due to cuts in State Operating Assistance and lower 1/2 Cent Sales Tax collection.

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) anticipates lower revenues as a result of current economic conditions. For FY09, sales tax revenue could be $7 million less than budget, and state assistance could be $2 million less than budget.

Administrative and other cost reductions, including a freeze on 21 City of Charlotte positions, are expected to reduce expenses by $6.83 million for FY09. It is projected that additional cost reductions are required and can only be achieved by trimming service. To that end, CATS is engaged in a public meeting process to discuss service reductions with citizens.

Major proposals related to service include:

Discontinuing service on five low ridership routes.

Adjusting services on eleven routes to discontinue low ridership segments of those routes. The routes that would be adjusted include services in the Southpark area, in the University area, in the South Boulevard area, in the Randolph Road area, in the Clanton Park area, in the North Mecklenburg area, and on Gold Rush.

Adjusting the alignment of seven express services to provide a quicker trip through Uptown.

Operating less frequently on two routes with lower ridership.

Adjusting service frequency on the Lynx Blue Line to ten minutes during weekday peak hours and twenty minutes on Sunday.

The proposed service adjustments are projected to reduce expenses by $1.1 million in FY09 if implemented by March 2, 2009, and 29 contract positions at the Bus Operating Division have already been frozen in anticipation of service adjustments. Annualized over a twelve month period the service adjustments are projected to reduce expenses by $4 million.

Click here to see a summary of the proposed cuts.

I was really disappointed to not see the Charlotte Trolley on the list of proposed cuts. If they cut the Trolley that would save $1M a year in operating costs. It makes sense to me to first cut a route that is used purely for tourism before cutting routes that people use to go to work.

Edited by uptownliving
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Here are the CLT area transit and rail stimulus projects approved by the State Board of Transportation on their economic stimulus wish list sent up. Note that a number of the rail projects would need to be done for the N and NE corridor transit projects. I note how in my opinion each RAIL piece might impact Charlotte's NE or N corridor.

TRANSIT

Charlotte Area TransitWest Corridor Enhanced Bus service/electronic signs $3,116,000

Charlotte Area TransitSustain downtown Charlotte Business shuttle $1,300,000

Charlotte Area TransitPurchase 60 buses off existing contract $30,000,000

Charlotte Area TransitRenovate existing Davidson Maintenance Facility & add new facility space for paratransit operations $25,000,000

Charlotte Area TransitAccelerate construction of Park & Ride facilities $10,000,000

Charlotte Area TransitModernize CATS' main Transit Hub in Charlotte's Center City $25,000,000

Charlotte Area TransitLYNX Blue Line Capacity Enhancements: purchase up to 12 LRVs; ticket vending machines; extend platform lengths; add shelters; information/advertising kiosks $110,000,000

Charlotte Area TransitCreate a sealed corridor in North Corridor from Charlotte to Mooresville (railroad grade crossing consolidation, signalization, quad gates and other enhancements) $30,000,000

RAIL

Sugar Creek Road Grade Separation $34,000,000 (part of NE corridor project)

CRISP-Charlotte Rail Improvement & Safety Project. Grade separate NS from CSXT and provide crossing for CATS O-Line project, close 9 at-grade crossings, enhance freight, intermodal, commuter and intercity passenger access. $80,000,000 (part of N line project, minor impact on NE line project as part of this relates to the NE line crossing the CXT)

Charlotte Station leaving signal $1,000,000

Acquire ROW for future Charlotte Gateway Station $7,500,000 (part of N line project)

Double-track 26.3 miles of NCRR between HPT and CLT $65,000,000

$65,000,000

Edited by staffer
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Charlotte Area TransitLYNX Blue Line Capacity Enhancements: purchase up to 12 LRVs

I like this. I assume these will mainly be used as a contribution to the overall LRV's that are needed to purchase due to the NE extension, though. Good for jobs and the economy of Siemens. A good time to invest in their stock.

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Here are the CLT area transit and rail stimulus projects approved by the State Board of Transportation on their economic stimulus wish list sent up. Note that a number of the rail projects would need to be done for the N and NE corridor transit projects. I note how in my opinion each RAIL piece might impact Charlotte's NE or N corridor.

TRANSIT

Charlotte Area TransitWest Corridor Enhanced Bus service/electronic signs $3,116,000

Charlotte Area TransitSustain downtown Charlotte Business shuttle $1,300,000

Charlotte Area TransitPurchase 60 buses off existing contract $30,000,000

Charlotte Area TransitRenovate existing Davidson Maintenance Facility & add new facility space for paratransit operations $25,000,000

Charlotte Area TransitAccelerate construction of Park & Ride facilities $10,000,000

Charlotte Area TransitModernize CATS' main Transit Hub in Charlotte's Center City $25,000,000

Charlotte Area TransitLYNX Blue Line Capacity Enhancements: purchase up to 12 LRVs; ticket vending machines; extend platform lengths; add shelters; information/advertising kiosks $110,000,000

Charlotte Area TransitCreate a sealed corridor in North Corridor from Charlotte to Mooresville (railroad grade crossing consolidation, signalization, quad gates and other enhancements) $30,000,000

RAIL

Sugar Creek Road Grade Separation $34,000,000 (part of NE corridor project)

CRISP-Charlotte Rail Improvement & Safety Project. Grade separate NS from CSXT and provide crossing for CATS O-Line project, close 9 at-grade crossings, enhance freight, intermodal, commuter and intercity passenger access. $80,000,000 (part of N line project, minor impact on NE line project as part of this relates to the NE line crossing the CXT)

Charlotte Station leaving signal $1,000,000

Acquire ROW for future Charlotte Gateway Station $7,500,000 (part of N line project)

Double-track 26.3 miles of NCRR between HPT and CLT $65,000,000

$65,000,000

Thanks for posting the list. I was just wondering where you found it, and if there was anything on the non transit related projects that are being recommended.

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I love this list, although it is a bit like a list for Santa, you can go however far your imagination will take you, but it doesn't mean you'll get it.

It is fun to imagine, though, getting 110m to upgrade the line we already built. (Where the heck did that number come from, I thought it was only 50m!?). I am so happy to see Keith Parker not being the staunch opponent of advertising like Tober was. It really would seem more urban somehow to have advertising pillars at the stations. Also, I presume that it is also so large as it would probably include expanding the 485 deck.

It is nice to see it broken down into smaller chunks of work which would offset the budget for the large project, but would be able to be done as a distinct project. Frankly, I wish we had been doing some of those things outside of the transit budget for a while, like the Sugar Creek Rd bridge, and land acquisition.

I am very hopeful for the $80m CRISP project. That, I'm pretty sure, includes the costs for fixing the mess of rail lines around the ADM Mill, and I'm pretty sure includes closing those crossings and moving the mill. That should mean a 'quiet zone' eligibility for 4th Ward, as well as a major boost for making Gateway Station viable as a passenger station location.

Hopefully, these AND highway changes can be done, hopefully by an emphasis from FTA, FRA, and FHA on building in the near term. But we all know that every town and city in the US is making their wishlists, too, so there will be massive competition.

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Is double-tracking the NCRR between Charlotte and High Point really ready-to-go? I ask because I wonder about its implications to the Blue Line Extension. CATS supposedly moved the 36th Street station to the Tryon side of the tracks because NCRR wants the NoDa side for added track capacity, including future HSR. Well then, how does this double-track request relate to construction through NoDa? Is this section already double-tracked and the request is filling in gaps elsewhere, or does this impact NoDa as well?

I also noticed a Sugar Creek grade-separation request for the railroad. I'm guessing this is to fill a funding gap, since I thought there already was an earmark for this project in the last transportation bill.

Finally, I'm guessing no request for grade-separating 36th Street, since it's not ready-to-go. But if double-tracking will occur here, it seems short-sighted to not coordinate the two projects. Even if BLE would not survive FTA scrutiny to be built (though hopefully the goal posts retreat and major transit projects end up accelerated with this new administration), a grade-separation is still likely needed and desired by NCRR at 36th. Seems to me that more holistic coordination will be a casualty in this rush to fund ready-to-go projects.

Edited by southslider
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Is double-tracking the NCRR between Charlotte and High Point really ready-to-go? I ask because I wonder about its implications to the Blue Line Extension. CATS supposedly moved the 36th Street station to the Tryon side of the tracks because NCRR wants the NoDa side for added track capacity, including future HSR. Well then, how does this double-track request relate to construction through NoDa? Is this section already double-tracked and the request is filling in gaps elsewhere, or does this impact NoDa as well?

I also noticed a Sugar Creek grade-separation request for the railroad. I'm guessing this is to fill a funding gap, since I thought there already was an earmark for this project in the last transportation bill.

Finally, I'm guessing no request for grade-separating 36th Street, since it's not ready-to-go. But if double-tracking will occur here, it seems short-sighted to not coordinate the two projects. Even if BLE would not survive FTA scrutiny to be built (though hopefully the goal posts retreat and major transit projects end up accelerated with this new administration), a grade-separation is still likely needed and desired by NCRR at 36th. Seems to me that more holistic coordination will be a casualty in this rush to fund ready-to-go projects.

Within Charlotte, the NCRR is already double-tracked south of CP "Junker" (aka the Orr Rd crossing). So simply doublie tracking the line would have no separate effect on Sugar Creek or 36th.

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  • 4 weeks later...

There is an article out in the CBJ that states the streetcar system is looking at a price tag now of $400 million. When the consultant firm investigated alternative ways of funding it, there was something that caught my eye and wondered what others on here thought. Portland, Oregon funded there $100 million streetcar line, which is essentially a little more than half the size of Charlotte's, partially from increasing parking fees or implementing a parking tax. I know this perception would be terrible by most in an auto-oriented city like here, but this would solve several problems. a) An increase in parking fees would encourage more to use mass transit, which would help regain ridership numbers in effect encouraging more federal and state funding for future lines, b) Obviously help fund a streetcar line or alternative lines, c) Possibly help the air quality here with our latest Ozone status that is preventing us from receieving some federal benefits (and I cautiously say Possibly, because I know there are a few that will critisize this for not completely taking vehicles off the road). What do you all think? Is it the right time to implement parking fees (with job losses, lack of money from a recession, general negative perception)? Should other methods of taxation be looked at like the city taxing parking lot owners then putting the operators of lots at the responsibility of increasing their rates?

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  • dubone changed the title to CATS Long Term Transit Plan - Silver, Red, Airport Lines
  • dubone pinned this topic

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