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CATS Long Term Transit Plan - Silver, Red Lines


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https://www.charlotteobserver.com/article249311860.html

Looks like because of a census delay until Sept. 30th they are looking to postpone elections for this year until next and hold back to back municipal races in 2022 & 2023.

Why this is relevant to this topic is it also affects the transit tax: 

If the City Council postpones the election, Charlotte may also need to rethink its controversial sales tax referendum initially targeted for this November.  Baker said the Council cannot pursue a standalone ballot referendum for “1 cent for mobility tax” — a focal point of the city’s ambitious transportation plan to expand light rail throughout Mecklenburg County, plus connectivity through greenways and bikeways.

Leaders in north Mecklenburg are skeptical that a long-promised Red Line, stretching from uptown Charlotte to the Lake Norman area, will come to fruition.

“We might actually benefit from having a more settled situation this year than it looks right now,” Driggs told the Observer Wednesday. “In my mind, we still have some work to do in order to persuade the public that we are kind of unified and everyone is on board.”

Heberlig cautioned that consecutive election cycles might hamper city government. If members are elected for just one year, they automatically find themselves in campaign mode when sworn into office.

 

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*cracks knuckles* here's my takeaways from the MTC meeting tonight: Red Line: The staff recommendation is to keep commuter rail on the O-line as the preferred option. What this largely boils do

I went to the Matthews Community meeting for the Silver Line station area planning last night and I thought y'all might appreciate some of the pictures/information from the event. I meant to take

Hushpuppy321, your question is the perfect segue into further discussions on the proper role of transit, and to do it justice requires more writing and reading than many can tolerate on a forum such a

Posted Images

My chief concern with a route like that is it dedicates an enormous length of the line to a single purpose: airport service. The opportunity with the Little Rock Road station is that you get airport service AND access to local bus routes, redevelopment at the airport gateway, etc.
Unless they could put the light rail station right at the terminal, there will always be some kind of people-mover connector necessary - once you have that element, there's no point in forcing the station to be in the middle of the airport parking decks. 

I completely agree!! Having the automatic people mover would be a great way to move people from that station to the terminal....the integration of the people mover station and the light rake sati on would be my biggest concern. It should be a seamless or relatively sensible transition between the stations. The white circled area is just land that could be developed and the stations being in the center as they currently are would make most sense.93df9b4ec1940a4f96bf9ecf35e7fbf4.jpg
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Transportation system interconnectivity is more important when immediately next to the airport. Land development opportunities abound elsewhere up and down the corridor away from the airport. And besides, if such development looks anything like the new County offices, Goodwill complex, Amazon warehouse, or even Sealed Air offices, there is little guarantee the land development will even be all that urban.

Edited by southslider
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11 hours ago, Seaboard Fellow said:

A real question to consider here would be commuter rail and intercity rail connectivity. If transportation planners reasonably believe there will be an airport station for commuter rail in the future, there could be advantages to have a seamless connection between LRT,Commuter Rail, and the people mover. This type of rail facility of could potentially offer check baggage and check in services. 

Agreed. Ideally, all Amtrak trains would also call at a CLT station in addition to Gateway. Plane/train integration would be beneficial, especially as train frequencies increase. I also think it's important for large metros to have suburban intercity stations in addition to downtown. A CLT station could capture park and ride traffic for that side of the metro (just like the proposed Harrisburg station would on the other side). This lets the downtown station focus on walkability and transit connectivity, rather than trying to cater to large volumes of cars in an urban environment.

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CLT should look to Minneapolis and the DC Metro for hints of what to do here.

As far as where to put the airport station - just do what the Silver Line extension does at Dulles: wind its way to within walking distance of the terminal, and then back out the other side to serve stations on the far side of the airport.

And then the Light Rail can *become* the people mover between the intercity/commuter station and the airport terminal. It already uses proof of payment to verify fares, so just declare that segment as free,  and then don't inspect tickets. If you need better frequency, then put in turnback tracks and run short(er?) trains in the schedule gaps. 24 hour service? Sure, why not! Minneapolis does basically all of the above, with their Light rail between their two airport terminals. It's pretty effective- just copy them!

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It always seemed to me that the way the parking garages were separated I would be ideal for trains to kind of like pull in and then leave, sort of like the way they do in Tampa.  There could be morning and evening rush hour trains that would skip the airport.  Regular service to the airport could be every 1/2 hour.

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14 hours ago, DMann said:

It always seemed to me that the way the parking garages were separated I would be ideal for trains to kind of like pull in and then leave, sort of like the way they do in Tampa.  There could be morning and evening rush hour trains that would skip the airport.  Regular service to the airport could be every 1/2 hour.

Those decks were originally designed for a peoplemover to go in that space, so light rail can easily fit there.  I don't know if they build the rental car deck to fit a peoplemover/lightrail or not though.  

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3 hours ago, DEnd said:

Those decks were originally designed for a peoplemover to go in that space, so light rail can easily fit there.  I don't know if they build the rental car deck to fit a peoplemover/lightrail or not though.  

At some point I heard that space for a people mover is built-in under the new arrival departure lanes. Dunno if that's true.

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1 hour ago, DMann said:

Whoa, is this the official Whitesnake proposal?

Do you mean White Point?  The renderings @j-man posted are the proposal for the CTC Station redevelopment.   There's a thread it if you go back to page 6 but I haven't heard any news from them in a while.   

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8 hours ago, Hushpuppy321 said:

The Opinion Page on Charlotte Observer has a thought about the proposed Transit Tax.  The Red-Line never happened but who ultimately bears the blame?  Norfolk Southern?

[retracted, see Toz's post below] I don't think CATS has been transparent about the original Red Line plans. They certainly implied that NS was OK with the use of the tracks for commuter rail, but since CATS never pushed the Red Line through preliminary engineering (they never had the money to build the line), they never needed to get NS pinned down on the issue. While it is possible that NS flip-flopped, I think it is more likely that CATS never bothered to have a real conversation with the railroad. (this is nothing more than the guesswork of a dude who has read what was publicly available about the Red Line)

However this happened, this has the potential to become an even bigger political disaster for CATS. Not only are N Meck voters rightly pissed about the original tax, but the availability of BRT on the toll lanes means that (I think) the alternatives analysis required for any federal grant can't possibly show the Red Line is worthy of federal funding as it won't offer any travel time or capacity advantages over BRT. In short, even if NS relents, CATS is well positioned to piss off North Meck residents a second time.

Edited by kermit
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Looks like there is a new FAA rule that will allow airports to use PFC (passenger facility fees) funds towards mass transit.

 

"Which (finally) brings us to the rule change issued a month ago. Under the new rule, expansions like the Silver Line would now be eligible for PFCs, typically by estimating what percentage of ridership would use the airport stop and prorating costs accordingly. Cities no longer have to choose between building a semi-useful airport connection solely for airport users or a truly useful mass transit expansion that would be much more difficult to pay for. It can now have both, the way it should have been all along."

https://safe.menlosecurity.com/https://www.vice.com/en/article/z3v5j3/us-airports-no-longer-have-to-build-their-own-crappy-trains

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7 hours ago, kermit said:

I don't think CATS has been transparent about the original Red Line plans. They certainly implied that NS was OK with the use of the tracks for commuter rail, but since CATS never pushed the Red Line through preliminary engineering (they never had the money to build the line), they never needed to get NS pinned down on the issue. While it is possible that NS flip-flopped, I think it is more likely that CATS never bothered to have a real conversation with the railroad. (this is nothing more than the guesswork of a dude who has read what was publicly available about the Red Line)

CATS' incompetence has become a huge political disaster. Not only are N Meck voters rightly pissed, but the availability of BRT on the toll lanes means that (I think) the alternatives analysis required for any federal grant can't possibly show the Red Line is worthy of federal funding as it won't offer any travel time or capacity advantages over BRT. In short, even if NS relents, CATS is well positioned to piss off North Meck residents a second time.

Your assertion is not correct. This problem is wholly created by Norfolk Southern.

image.png.399dc8e3278c7f8460d1a44283a8e6f3.png

 

As a North Meck resident, I am in a minority in feeling that BRT is actually the best solution, made possible because of the toll lanes. MetroRapid was poised to become excellent transit service, but it was barely off the ground when COVID crushed commute patterns. This political issue wouldn't have gone away, but at least CATS would have been able to point to that - right now they can't. 

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ahh, the joys of being a large urban area, on the cusp of rapid growth in a state that is run by anti-urban a-holes who are unwilling to let us vote to increase our own taxes in order to make the city more productive (which increases state tax revenues...): 

 

EDIT: From Spanberg's CBJ story: https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2021/02/23/charlotte-moves-is-on-the-move-to-2022.html

Quote

At the end of last year, when the Charlotte Moves task force handed City Council a recommendation for a transit and mobility expansion plan costing as much as $12 billion, it looked like 2021 would be dominated by the political and business coalition touting the idea.

Now, it looks like the train will be leaving the station much later — as in 2022.

The reason: a near-certain one-year delay of the scheduled city government elections caused by late-arriving Census data.

“The likelihood of us having an election in 2021 is slim to none,” City Attorney Patrick Baker told council during an update Monday night.

Quote

Privately, two prominent supporters of the transit proposal, one on the political side and one from the business community, told CBJ that the delayed sales tax referendum could be beneficial. A growing chorus of critics, including three north Mecklenburg mayors and the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, have opposed the Charlotte Moves plan in recent weeks, citing a lack of projects in their area and uneasiness over seeking a tax hike while many people are enduring economic fallout from Covid-19.

No new info (beyond the tweet) on the view from Raleigh. Basically every elected official is acknowledging the current plan is snakebit and the need to do some revamping before taking it to voters. Personally, I would like to see a more ambitious plan.

Edited by kermit
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CATS, NSRR. NCGA, or Census... whomever you blame, there won't be any rapid transit expansion anytime soon. 

Recommending Commuter Rail and BRT for the wrong corridors for decades didn't exactly help either. North Meck Towns are right to distrust CATS but also foolish to buy into upgrading a largely abandoned spur line instead of enhancing toll lanes.  Now, CATS has expanded their snake-oil tricks to Gaston and Union Counties with the latest Silver Bullet of big but unattainable plans.

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5 hours ago, southslider said:

CATS, NSRR. NCGA, or Census... whomever you blame, there won't be any rapid transit expansion anytime soon. 

Recommending Commuter Rail and BRT for the wrong corridors for decades didn't exactly help either. North Meck Towns are right to distrust CATS but also foolish to buy into upgrading a largely abandoned spur line instead of enhancing toll lanes.  Now, CATS has expanded their snake-oil tricks to Gaston and Union Counties with the latest Silver Bullet of big but unattainable plans.

What do you mean exactly? There is zero chance the Silver Line doesnt happen at this point.

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34 minutes ago, Rickybobby said:

What do you mean exactly? There is zero chance the Silver Line doesnt happen at this point.

Isn't CATS still working on a funding plan, which could include getting approval from voters (who in theory could vote this down)?

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49 minutes ago, CLT2014 said:

Isn't CATS still working on a funding plan, which could include getting approval from voters (who in theory could vote this down)?

Upon further research it does appear that the funding approved is just for design/investigation. I still stand by my statement in the form of opinion however. 

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9 hours ago, Rickybobby said:

What do you mean exactly? There is zero chance the Silver Line doesnt happen at this point.

Silver Line requires additional taxes, for which there's little chance at this point, especially in time for any system expansion this decade.

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