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CATS Long Term Transit Plan - Silver, Red Lines


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21 minutes ago, TCLT said:

Is there even a good way to turn the trains around at Carson station? There is a crossover between Carson and Bland but making that transition seems like it would potentially kill the Blue Line schedule.

This feels like either a really poorly thought-out panicked response to that consultant or a completely insincere way to say they took concerns to heart and gave it another look but their original LPA really is the best way.

There is not a good way to turn trains at Carson. Turning without blocking the normal operations of the Blue requires a third track where the turning train can be stopped off the 'main', the driver can change ends and perform a break test. Looking at google maps there is no space for such a track anywhere along the rail trail.

Turns will take a while, they will need to wait out a schedule buffer and/or driver rest period. Turns that take less than 5 minutes would be amazing for CATS, but I'll bet that most turns will take at least 10 minutes -- far too long to block operating tracks.

I agree that this plan is ridiculous.

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Those sharp turns are insanely horrible: slow, loud, and stress intensive hence why they’re slow. The way the line would have to bend and contort to fit the interlining would cause pinch points on the line. To be honest running it down 10th/9th St. 10th st which remains an unfinished contiguous road through uptown. These could be more useful serving as a light rail corridor putting the line right at the center of first ward. They wanted a station right? Why not give them the whole cake! Would solve the transfer point issue having the train stations between the BLE and SLR right next or above each other. Now…if they want to build a bridge over it or run the tracks and intersect is something CATS can only logistically determine based on viability and cost and trade offs of each.

This combines something’s that would be asked for on Trade. A ROW, preemption, etc. but with the benefit of no pinch points also serves a neglected part of uptown and could help attract development on North Tryon to help fill the gap that exists there. Charlotte also owns a lot of land around there. Might even get Mr.Levine to get his act together. Just makes a lot of sense to me to do it this way. Doesn’t anyone agree? The outskirts of uptown seems sloppy and conceding. Transit should be at the center of neighborhoods not running next to a highway at best. It will already hug independence blvd for a significant stretch.

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I think the LPA as is shown (previously) is the best case scenario, Hitting Gateway and moving through 4th & 1st Wards bringing growth, being Grade Separated and having manageable curves so speed wouldn’t decrease as much. That being said - I’m much more concerned about the future of how anything Silver Line related would be funded.  
 

Also - WTH happened to any talk of expanding the Blue Line down to Ballantyne (5 to 5.5 miles) and lengthening southern Blue Line  stations to 3-Car Capacity.  Do both those things need a funding/tax referendum or can they be funded through current mechanisms?

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1 hour ago, Hushpuppy321 said:

Do both those things need a funding/tax referendum or can they be funded through current mechanisms?

The Ballantyne extension will be much too expensive for CATS to pay for using federal grants and the current sales tax. It will need to be packaged into any tax increase vote to get support from down there. [it will cost around $500 million at the, now quaint, BLE costs per mile]

The platform extensions -might- be paid for by CATS from existing revenues but CATS / MTC don’t want to do that. Its also unlikely the MTC would approve the expenditure while ridership remains depressed. As I have said many times before, increased frequency is a MUCH better strategy for increasing Blue Line capacity. There is a federal grant program for capacity enhancement like platform extensions and CATS was working on that application years ago, but they ultimately decided not to apply. This is another improvement that CATS is keeping in their back pocket, and won’t pull it out until there is a political reason to. (And I doubt the feds would fund it due to current ridership either)

Edited by kermit
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I have been a lurker on here for quite a while and this topic finally convinced me to post something.  I’m not In the industry as some of you seem to be but am very interested in what is going on with the projects and infrastructure of Charlotte.

What can a homeowner like myself in First Ward do to show my displeasure for the potential changes in the silver line with our local leaders?  The original LPA appears to be the way to go.  Would community involvement even be effective for a project like this.

Edited by Jakeupps
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1 hour ago, kayman said:

IMO, they are reacting to ULI's idiotic recommendations. They should have NEVER even considered this stupidity.  ULI is clueless when it comes to mass transit. 

Trying to remember where I heard this, but it sounded like CATS wasn't at liberty to ignore the ULI recommendation. It sounded like there was some process in place where they HAD to go through this process after ULI suggested it. 

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52 minutes ago, Jakeupps said:

I have been a lurker on here for quite a while and this topic finally convinced me to post something.  I’m not In the industry as some of you seem to be but am very interested in what is going on with the projects and infrastructure of Charlotte.

What can a homeowner like myself in First Ward do to show my displeasure for the potential changes in the silver line with our local leaders?  The original LPA appears to be the way to go.  Would community involvement even be effective for a project like this.

Contact all via email & phone calls of the At-large COC City Council members (Winston, Ajmera, Eiselt, and Phipps), the COC Mayor, and Larken Egleston (District 1). Also appear for public comment at the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) meetings along with getting involved with the Citizens Transit Advisory Group (CTAG) of the MTC.  Repeatedly give your input at those meetings and be aggressively consistent with expressing your concerns to them. You will be heard as you're the driver as homeowner and City of Charlotte citizen & taxpayer.

10 minutes ago, tozmervo said:

Trying to remember where I heard this, but it sounded like CATS wasn't at liberty to ignore the ULI recommendation. It sounded like there was some process in place where they HAD to go through this process after ULI suggested it. 

ULI has power and the lobbying purse over the COC and MTC. Especially with the UDO conversation. It's awkward and trifling their relationship with those entities

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14 hours ago, southslider said:

Overlapping with Blue Line in Uptown both lowers cost and boosts ridership.

As someone who lives near where the silver line would terminate, but works in south end... I kinda like the interlining option, but that's just for selfish reasons. 

Ultimately, I don't hate the idea of the silver line being broken into two parts, like it was a long time ago, but it does seem like the planning for this thing should be much further along. 

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How much of the cost factor is unavoidable? As far as I'm aware there are still key milestones that need to be achieved before the Silver Line becomes more than just an idea - for example the passing of a sales tax hike, or something. Theoretically there would be a point at which the proposed cost makes the project unlikely to happen. How do we determine what that point is? I'd rather have a decent Silver Line than no Silver Line at all.

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I still have two questions on CATS explanation for this interlining proposal.
1. They cite a cost reduction vs the LPA Phase 1 (Matthews to Uptown) of $1 billion. I’m struggling to see how the Blue Line to Gateway Station portion hugging I277 costs that much. Is that a reasonable estimate by them? A billion dollars for a mile of track?
2. They cite a 17% increase in ridership for the interlining option versus the LPA Phase 1. How much of that comes at expense of Blue Line ridership?

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11 minutes ago, tozmervo said:

This also shortchanges Gateway Station majorly, though maybe they were seeing problems getting silver line ROW located appropriately next to the station?

Recent gateway renderings which have all omitted the Silver Line have given us some suggestions that this may be the case.

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46 minutes ago, tozmervo said:

Maybe the modeling shows the new route will have 10s of thousands more jobs within 1/4 mile of silver line stations under this proposal, hence higher ridership.

I guess I'm not buying it because those "new" stations are already existing blue line stations that would've been accessible with a single transfer. The interlining alternative doesn't actually create new access to jobs, just slightly more convenient access for commuters from the east. And their ridership estimate is for 2050. Do they really believe one transfer is going to deter 20% of potential riders three decades from now? If so that's kind of a shocking indictment of the potential of transit in Charlotte isn't it? Why even bother building out a multi-billion-dollar rail network if you don't think people are going to be willing to make transfers? Why spend hundreds of millions on a bus transfer hub? Or billions on a multi-modal transfer station?  The Phase A estimate is also only considering Matthews to Gateway Station. By 2050 the LPA would've had the line complete and running to the airport. Shouldn't the 2050 ridership comparison be made between the interlining option and the full routing? I have to assume the airport alone would add a not insignificant number of riders (travelers and employees). I'd also like to see an estimate for how decoupling the silver line would affect estimated ridership on the western Phase B portion. This whole proposal seems so lacking.

Edited by TCLT
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This on top of the news about the revamped CTC station is quite the whammy for Union as far as being a multi-modal hub. It’ll still have greyhound/mega bus/etc, gold line and Amtrak. I don’t really see many connections happening at gateway anymore. CTC on the other hand will have Silver, Blue, Gold connections and an a new bus hub. 

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If they really want to be at the heart of Charlotte put it where the jobs are…Just run it right down Tryon. Will put people right out in front of the office cluster where the jobs are. Problem solved have it go on like a streetcar but without the street or the cars and pedestrian the rest of the space and you’ve got yourself what I’d call low-cost, high-ridership opportunity. Right that center of it all!

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In a short trip to DC I was reminded how much it sucks to depend on a ‘rapid’ transit system with 15 minute frequencies. My usual 20 minute (before metro implosion) green-orange line trip took me 45 minutes.

Please CATS, run transit reasonably!

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35 minutes ago, kermit said:

In a short trip to DC I was reminded how much it sucks to depend on a ‘rapid’ transit system with 15 minute frequencies. My usual 20 minute (before metro implosion) green-orange line trip took me 45 minutes.

Please CATS, run transit reasonably!

Try riding it everyday for years, then get back to me. DC metro rail is a much more mature heavy rail system and has its on set of problems. Using onesies and twosies trips to substantiate a reliability metric is ridiculous,  it is an entirely different system and nowhere near as mature..

You’re comparing apples to oranges and quite sure frequency windows are developed using data models; i.e., operations and maintenance personnel.  Maybe there is a disconnect between O&M and executive leadership, but at the end of the day, I just think it is what it is, this is what Charlotte paid for…which I think is a great accomplishment for a mid-size southern metro. 
 

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3 hours ago, kermit said:

In a short trip to DC I was reminded how much it sucks to depend on a ‘rapid’ transit system with 15 minute frequencies. My usual 20 minute (before metro implosion) green-orange line trip took me 45 minutes.

Please CATS, run transit reasonably!

I like the DC metro system but good lord can it take a ludicrously long time to travel a short distance when you need to transfer lines. It shouldn't take me like 45+ minutes to get from Arlington to Union Station, it's just a couple miles.

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There's been stalled talk about the Red Line for some time now. But no progress on that, and Gateway station completion approaches (plus, if I remember correctly, a nice new station or commuter platform or something is in the works in Salisbury).

So I'm wondering if there's been any discussion on a different commuter rail line using the existing Amtrak tracks that run through the Charlotte region? From what I can tell on the map it looks like it would be possible to do something like:

Kings Mountain - Bessemer City - Gastonia - Lowell - Belmont - Douglas Airport - Gateway/Uptown - University City - Harrisburg - Concord - Kannapolis - Landis - Salisbury

Would there be a need to fight with a company over increased frequencies on these tracks? There is a lot of development along the entire length I just suggested and I could see it becoming a well-used commuter route to get in and out of the city.

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