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CATS Long Term Transit Plan - Silver, Red Lines


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On 7/23/2021 at 8:45 AM, TGIBridays said:

 

 

 

Blue Line Station and Caldwell/Davidson Station

Here they're proposing having a station for the transfer to the Blue Line as well as another one 2 blocks away between Caldwell and Davidson, which seems kind of redundant, but I'm sure those living in 1st Ward would appreciate it.  They're also showing a park cap over 277 between Caldwell and Davidson. The lady talking mentioned the Caldwell/Davidson station/cap isn't currently part of the alignment and is just to illustrate the potential options.  They're also showing the Grace Immanuel Village Apartments right next to the proposed station getting knocked down for mid rise apartments. 

20210722_175815.thumb.jpg.ba00e029f06de3b45a83aebfcd25ae08.jpg

 

 

Interesting also that they are showing a road cutting through the current Cats bus yard with some development on that site. A cap there makes a lot of sense and would make that property really valuable. Needs better connectivity to Alexander Park and the greenway from this direction.

Also wish there were a station closer to Optimist Hall than Parkwood. Blue line slows down a lot under 277 anyways.

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Today - WFAE 90.7 Interview of Dr. Elizabeth Delmelle by Marshall Terry - "As Lower-Wage Jobs Move to Charlotte's Suburbs, How do Residents Fare Financially" 

Excerpts:  "Terry:  And when it comes to transportation in Charlotte, the focus seems to be on light rail.  But based on your research, do you think having a vehicle is more important than access to light rail or bus service for long-term employment?  Delmelle:  So for lower-income households, again, as they move out to these less accessible older suburbs that have less connectivity, older cul-de-sacs, for example, poor sidewalk connections — the reality is in Charlotte, we need to deal with the built environment as it is.   And so for these households, having a car will definitely make a bigger impact than having access to a bus or light rail.  Not that light rail should not be part of the conversation.  But if our goal is to decrease inequality and increase wages of low-income households so that they can afford to live in this city, then we can't forget this element of the solution.  

Terry: We talked about access to employment, but you also studied how physical access to jobs affects income.  What were your findings there?  Delmelle:  So we found that as access to employment or job opportunities increased, then the incomes of lower-income neighborhoods, the average incomes increased.  So this means that transportation is one way to increase the earnings of low-income individuals.  

Terry: What would you like policymakers to take from your research, particularly now that we are still going through a pandemic that's affected how we work and live?  Delmelle:  So I think the important take-home message of this is that as we go through all of these changes in our urban planning and long-range forecasts, the emphasis has largely been on public transportation and light rail investment.  And that is important given the climate emergency we're in.  We should definitely think about these sustainable modes of transportation.  But this is telling us that we need to look at the reality of the way that Charlotte has been built and the way that the demographics have evolved.  And if low-wage and low-income individuals are in increasingly inaccessible neighborhoods, then one of the solutions might need to be increasing car ownership — at least in the short term, so that they're better able to access these jobs and improve their chances of increasing their earnings.  And that will have a better impact on improving overall equity and reducing inequalities."  

Dr. Elizabeth Delmelle is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  She co-authored a research paper on spatial mismatch hypothesis.

Charlotte skyline

https://www.cogitatiopress.com/socialinclusion/article/view/3735  -  Delmelle, E., I. Nilsson, P. Adu, "Poverty Suburbanization, Job Accessibility, and Employment Outcomes" (05/13/2021)

 

Edited by QCxpat
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On 7/25/2021 at 12:56 PM, Desert Power said:

Interesting also that they are showing a road cutting through the current Cats bus yard with some development on that site. A cap there makes a lot of sense and would make that property really valuable. Needs better connectivity to Alexander Park and the greenway from this direction.

Also wish there were a station closer to Optimist Hall than Parkwood. Blue line slows down a lot under 277 anyways.

Yeah, I wonder how much of these renderings were just an artistic look at what the area could be rather than CATS actually fleshing out ideas.  If they developed the bus yard, it would need to move somewhere.  Though it might make sense to get it further from such an active and valuable area.

I agree about the cap.  Though I fear the cost will make it a nonstarter with the amount of political will for these types of projects have around here. Still not holding my breath for the Silver Line to even happen in my lifetime, though I hope it does. 

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1 hour ago, MarcoPolo said:

CATS does not have the staff time nor the development chops to assess actual build-out scenarios.  It's not their purpose.  These are illustrative renderings.    Back several pages ago (189/190), I wrote about the substantial shortcomings of the current Silver line routing, and the impossible assignment CATS has been given to plan/build a transit line as cheaply and with the least political and public fallout possible, while still justifying its need by actually providing "service" meaningful to riders and business.   The current meandering route avoids many "win" scenarios, thus encouraging thinking minds to begin questioning its purpose; Dr Delmelle's research paper a prime example.  While she does state her support for transit projects and funding, she inserts a powerful (and accurate) observation regarding access, jobs, and income.   Insightful studies such as her's echo in the ears of the uninformed anti-transit opposition who misinterpret the findings (knowingly and unknowingly) and cherry pick points to use in their arguments.  A subtle, but poignant example of what happens when process (build it cheaply and with no controversy), overrides purpose (provide high volume alternatives to access jobs and housing).   The ever growing and now noticeable gap between what the Silver Line alignment looks like vs what it should look like has created room for doubt.   Both the gap and the doubts will continue to grow.  

This is a significant problem because at the end of the day, the answer is "all the above", ie: transit in the form of heavy rail, light rail, trolleys, BRT's, on-demand, etc.  Charlotte's urban pattern is analogous to a teenager with very crooked teeth and an overbite, and the non-auto oriented transportation alternatives are braces on those teeth.  Re-aligning teeth and bite into their proper places, takes time,  is painful, and not necessarily an attractive look while happening, but in the end so worth it!    These necessary interventions are what will enable Charlotte's urbanism to shed its inefficient, inequitable, and wasteful baby fat, to become a lean, fit and energetic young adult.  

Just curious as to what you think the "Win" vs "Meandering" Scenario's are?  I know some people don't like the proposed alignment of the Silverline @ CLT Airport could be one issue.

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17 hours ago, MarcoPolo said:

CATS does not have the staff time nor the development chops to assess actual build-out scenarios.  It's not their purpose.  These are illustrative renderings.    

That's basically what I assumed. Makes sense. Like I said, it felt more like it was marketing to voters to get them primed to approve the sales tax so that any of this can actually have a chance at happening. 

17 hours ago, MarcoPolo said:

Back several pages ago (189/190), I wrote about the substantial shortcomings of the current Silver line routing, and the impossible assignment CATS has been given to plan/build a transit line as cheaply and with the least political and public fallout possible, while still justifying its need by actually providing "service" meaningful to riders and business.   The current meandering route avoids many "win" scenarios, thus encouraging thinking minds to begin questioning its purpose; 

I personally like your previously mentioned two routing suggestions much better than the current alignment (i.e. 1. make John Belk a boulevard opening up land for development and the light rail to follow that path 2. do anything necessary to tunnel/elevate the tracks through the center of uptown).  But like you mentioned CATS has been given an impossible task. I think they felt the current alignment met most of their goals with the cheapest price (i.e. they had to get to the Gateway Station, keep costs lower, spur development in underdeveloped parts of the uptown, and allow for new low income housing).  I would argue that bulldozing John Belk to put a more human scale boulevard could do all of that except maybe reaching Gateway Station all the while removing that concrete scar. But it also seems like a much harder battle to fight in car loving Charlotte.  Maybe the political winds are changing in that regard, with more attention being placed on urban highway removal, urban renewal, and the racist nature of many of these urban highways in the first place. 

All that said, I feel like the train has left the station and it's too late for them to start changing the routing and redo the center city section of the alignment. Maybe I'm wrong. If so, who do we email/call? haha

17 hours ago, MarcoPolo said:

Dr Delmelle's research paper a prime example.  While she does state her support for transit projects and funding, she inserts a powerful (and accurate) observation regarding access, jobs, and income.   Insightful studies such as her's echo in the ears of the uninformed anti-transit opposition who misinterpret the findings (knowingly and unknowingly) and cherry pick points to use in their arguments. 

Between WFAE's interview with her and Steve Harrison's transit time article about giving people money for cars instead of spending money on improving transit, my hopes for a more multi-modal Charlotte have been taking a beating. I recognize that these are complex issues, but I can't believe the answer is cars, cars, cars. Especially since his math in the article is ridiculously woeful.  It reeks of someone who hasn't tracked how much it costs to own and maintain a car let alone build and maintain the infrastructure needed for cars.

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6 minutes ago, DMann said:

Giving people cars is one thing, but maintaining the car is something else. For any of us who had a car and had to pay maintenance or replace the tires do the oil changes things like that getting a person with very little means a car and then not being able to support that car will create a car up on blocks in the front yard.

Right. My car is a relatively economical Mazda 3 and it costs me around $0.22/mi for gas, fees, and maintenance. It goes up to nearly $1/mi if I factor in the initial cost of the car.  And I've done a lot of the maintenance myself saving me some on labor (I did have to buy a lot of tools so that probably offset the savings but I don't track those expenses in my spreadsheet so I'm not sure).

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Highway revenue has far exceeded expectations coming out of the pandemic, however, so have construction and real estate costs, and extremely so.  In fact, costs have increased so dramatically, that no new major projects will be added to the upcoming State Transportation Improvement Program update, and many projects will be removed from the prior STIP update.

Back to transit, if sales taxes grew that much, you can guarantee that costs would be going up as well (and already are). And while the new Silver Line has a better alignment for development by no longer being trapped inside Independence and Wilkinson Boulevards, such design adds up to a lot more miles of private real estate to acquire, and all in a market that costs more than ever.

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29 minutes ago, jthomas said:

Maybe sales tax shouldn't be the answer, or at least not the whole answer. Since the Silver Line is being sold as a development scheme just as much as a mobility tool, CATS (i.e. the public) should work to capture some of the development value that the transit investment creates. I don't know what form that would take, but I could imagine a special tax district in the 1/4 mile radius around each station, for instance. I could also see CATS buying up land around each proposed station, upzoning it, and then selling it at a profit to developers once the transit line is complete. This is what the private sector does - why shouldn't the public sector reap some of the benefits of its own investment?

I have said this before just like the special taxing authority uptown which is a couple pennies on the rate.  In Georgia they used special tax districts called  Improvement Districts like there is one in the Perimeter area Perimeter Community Improvement Districts – Creating the Southeast's Premier Livable Center in Atlanta Georgia (perimetercid.org)    Absolutely this should be looked at if these finances are going to work because their tax projections are completely rosy and assume not another recession EVER. 

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On 8/5/2021 at 7:39 PM, KJHburg said:

from the Charlotte Ledger transit weekly email and this brings up some good questions rosy economic projections for tax revenues and not so much inflated costs.  Both of which I think are way off.

 

“One of the things that I do want to say up front is that the one cent covers it all,” City Manager Marcus Jones told council members in June. “We’re able to do both the transit and the transportation. It covers the capital costs, the operating costs and the financing costs.”

The manager’s confidence is based on work from a consultant, InfraStrategies, whose managing principal is former CATS CEO Carolyn Flowers. She was the leader of the transit system in Charlotte from 2010 to 2015 when it faced the reality of the transit tax running dry.

...

To make the numbers work, InfraStrategies has created a financing plan that spreads debt payments over 50 years. It also says sales tax revenue will come in higher than historical norms, and that costs will increase at a slower rate than what’s happened in the past.

...

The construction schedule is delayed so far into the future that the people in charge today will be long gone if the money runs dry.

And a future council will be left with trying to keep the promises from 2021. Just as today’s council is trying to fulfill the promises of 2007.

 

These passages really capture exactly why these figures cannot be relied on.

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  • 3 weeks later...
5 minutes ago, davidclt said:

Glad to see the new app. Still no real-time information and items from the old app's wallet don't transfer over with phone number. Lynx still at 20 minutes headways. Why does CATS hate their customers?

Oh and now purchased tickets expire. I may be a bit of a ticket packrat. Old vs. New

Screenshot_20210823-123229.jpg

Screenshot_20210823-123503.jpg

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Poor bus service means this city will always require the vast majority of people to own a car. Adding another light rail line won't change that. They got to get the bus service right as well to build a full SYSTEM.

The views on the CTC though and bus riders as undesirables that influenced the demise of the Epicentre (even among this pro-transit crowd on UP) shows this city is a FAR way off from bus service breaking the stigma it has among choice riders. With bus service so poor, even low-income riders do everything they can to scrape money together for a car because buses don't go where they need to get (note, many transit dependent people DO NOT work in a high rise at a bank).  People could literally get fired relying on the bus to get them to their job here.

Edited by CLT2014
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