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CATS Long Term Transit Plan - Silver, Red Lines


monsoon

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I agree with the interlining on the Gold Line on Trade as the best option. But is that sharp turn at Gateway even feasible? A few screenshots from the meeting:
http://up-bucket-0.s3.amazonaws.com/monthly_2022_10/D84997AE-5A1F-4353-8D64-C566BD07B495.thumb.png.71bba104f7736316c4eb4449fbba6288.png
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http://up-bucket-0.s3.amazonaws.com/monthly_2022_10/6A11FDA0-DA06-4556-AD53-9BF98672EDC6.thumb.png.3d02cc2d289b8d017431b558c7d3205e.png
http://up-bucket-0.s3.amazonaws.com/monthly_2022_10/AA0CD52F-F171-4B12-AB5B-7972965F6F40.thumb.png.bfeb152a9a7d2cd97571bccde87e1e66.png

http://up-bucket-0.s3.amazonaws.com/monthly_2022_10/FFFED658-491E-46CA-B41E-535A3F4A8E07.thumb.png.64c2c2385d89973fbde237444b9ec539.png

This is a quick sharp turn versus a drawn out turn which is worst. Lines should be as straight as possible over long distances. It would be the same as the gold line turning into Hawthorne. Silver line has two sharp turns merging with gold line, although it seems like the these turns would slow the line down…but perhaps not too significantly. The Blue Line and Gold Line should build a more robust connection for sure if this does happen.

Interlining with the blue line just does seem to be the best idea…
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My assumption is they’d go through the process of making it a separated ROW if they were to run the Silver line through it. 

EDIT: Elizabeth traffic could be focused to 3rd/4th and 7th. Both roads (I believe) have plenty of capacity to deal with increased traffic.

Plenty of other LRT systems have street-running and have made it reliable enough. And - as i’m sure it’s been mentioned - the ability to run on streets is one of the big advantages of LRT over heavy-rail.

I really think interlining is one of the best options CATS has put forward yet.

Edited by seththom
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I think it’s fine to share tracks with the gold line as I would assume most people are begging or ending their trip uptown. If a significant volume of people were going past uptown, then it would be a bigger issue IMO. I mean, I rather it be a heavy light rail like HART rail and go underground through uptown & underground through airport property but hey. Transit on a budget. 

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25 minutes ago, AirNostrumMAD said:

I think it’s fine to share tracks with the gold line as I would assume most people are begging or ending their trip uptown. If a significant volume of people were going past uptown, then it would be a bigger issue IMO. I mean, I rather it be a heavy light rail like HART rail and go underground through uptown & underground through airport property but hey. Transit on a budget. 

I mean, yeah underground through uptown would be INCREDIBLE. But you'd almost have to operate on 2 schedules then. If you are in Matthews and relying on it to get to the airport, you will never be able to because who knows how long it would take to get through uptown. The only way i see it being possible is if, yes, they completely close Elizabeth/Trade to traffic but you would still need a ton of pedestrian controls and the train would still need to go super slow. It all just doesn't make sense to me.

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6 minutes ago, CLTProductions said:

I mean, yeah underground through uptown would be INCREDIBLE. But you'd almost have to operate on 2 schedules then. If you are in Matthews and relying on it to get to the airport, you will never be able to because who knows how long it would take to get through uptown. The only way i see it being possible is if, yes, they completely close Elizabeth/Trade to traffic but you would still need a ton of pedestrian controls and the train would still need to go super slow. It all just doesn't make sense to me.

I don't have data, but I'm inclined to believe that there will be low ridership from Matthews to the Airport (due to distance and time anyway) particularly given that the Silver Line will not go directly to the airport in any event, unless there were some express trains which we know are likely off the table due to cost. So I'm not sure it's worth trying to prioritize Matthews travelers getting to the airport versus some other closer in considerations. Getting people from Matthews to uptown is the greatest ridership potential it has IMO.). How long is the trip from Matthews to uptown supposed to take? 

But that's just my opinion based on not having seen any numbers, etc.

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6 minutes ago, kermit said:

IMO this concern is overstated. Plenty of LRT systems run at grade through their downtowns (Portland and Salt Lake City come to mind). While the trip through uptown would not be particularly fast, eliminating the parking issue and installing intersection priority signaling (along with a bit of schedule padding) would result in schedulable timing through town (this is assuming CATS can get their crap together). Besides, who (outside of Germans in Germany) times their airport transit trip to the minute?

The hybrid aspect of the Gold Line vehicles seems to be working fine and this is the direction the technology is moving in anyway, so I don’t think the wireless section is a big issue.

CATS getting their crap together is a MASSIIIVEEEE assumption lol. But yes, I see your point. They would 100% have to close Trade/Elizabeth to cars and add signal prioritization, otherwise forget it. 

That said, if they do those things (get their crap together, close the street, signal prioritize) I do LOVE this option and would fully support it as the best option. Touche on Portland and SLC

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32 minutes ago, jthomas said:

I'll keep banging this drum - express regional service should be mainline rail. Buy out CSX from Monroe to Bostic, build dedicated passenger tracks alongside NS from Gateway to CLT (bonus: these could be used to extend the Piedmonts to the airport), and truncate Silver Line LRT to be focused on local urban service that doesn't duplicate existing rail rights of way. All of that could likely be done for less money than the cost of the current plan.

I think an electrified S-Bahn style service makes the most sense with a combination of CSX/a new dedicated ROW if the idea is to eventually serve the rest of Union/Gaston County. I just don't know if it impacts TOD opportunities and integration with Gold Line Phase III and Monroe Rd.

Denver's A-line is a good example, 23.6 miles, electrified, public-private partnership, with about 23,000 daily riders and a $2.1B price tag.

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This is absolutely embarrassing that these are the options for the silver line. First a 26 mile light rail line is crazy and their only concern seems to be cost, which will be the detriment to almost every user.  No matter what, this will cost a lot of money, so just do the right thing and tunnel the line under uptown so we can have more frequencies and less delays (more safety). The lines main goal should be getting people to where they want to go in the most efficient way. Focus on getting people who live in the denser parts of charlotte more options so living car free can become an option. The fact that this lines seems to be catering to people way out in Mathews who will likely still drive there car is crazy.

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32 minutes ago, seththom said:

I think an electrified S-Bahn style service makes the most sense with a combination of CSX/a new dedicated ROW if the idea is to eventually serve the rest of Union/Gaston County. I just don't know if it impacts TOD opportunities and integration with Gold Line Phase III and Monroe Rd.

Denver's A-line is a good example, 23.6 miles, electrified, public-private partnership, with about 23,000 daily riders and a $2.1B price tag.

That's because the Mathews regional line would only serve to get people from the suburbs to uptown. A separate local urban line would then be built that would focus on TOD and everyday travel needs. 

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CSX would just be a repeat of the Norfolk Southern red line mess. Those tracks to Matthews are pretty heavily used. I'm not bothered by the 26 mile length as very few people would actually ride from Union County to Belmont. In reality, we're probably going to get a phase a from somewhere in Matthews to the Panthers stadium., which I'm totally fine with. 

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44 minutes ago, 49er said:

CSX would just be a repeat of the Norfolk Southern red line mess. Those tracks to Matthews are pretty heavily used. I'm not bothered by the 26 mile length as very few people would actually ride from Union County to Belmont. In reality, we're probably going to get a phase a from somewhere in Matthews to the Panthers stadium., which I'm totally fine with. 

I'm no expert on the freight railroads, but CSX does have a recent track record of selling lines outright to governments. You don't have to look any further than Virginia, which bought 223 miles of track and 384 miles of right of way from CSX last year for $525 million.

https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/csx-starts-sale-for-virginias-3-7b-rail-initiative/

The line through Charlotte may have decent traffic, but it is a secondary part of their network, and besides I'm sure that any deal would involve them retaining trackage rights. 

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5 minutes ago, jthomas said:

I'm no expert on the freight railroads, but CSX does have a recent track record of selling lines outright to governments. You don't have to look any further than Virginia, which bought 223 miles of track and 384 miles of right of way from CSX last year for $525 million.

https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/csx-starts-sale-for-virginias-3-7b-rail-initiative/

The line through Charlotte may have decent traffic, but it is a secondary part of their network, and besides I'm sure that any deal would involve them retaining trackage rights. 

Yea, about five years ago CSX attracted a bunch of attention when they widely announced they would sell any line in their network . AFAIK they are still accepting offers. They are eager to sell branch lines (like the Charlotte subdivision), but their sale of the Virginia main demonstrated that they are willing to entertain offers for nearly any line. I have no doubt they would sell the Charlotte tracks for a reasonable offer.

The CSX intermodal terminal could easily be moved closer to their main line in Monroe. The trickier issue is they carry lots of liquid traffic from the tank farm in Paw Creek, and the tank farm is there due to the Colonial East Coast Pipeline (it aint gonna move). So any sale of the lines would almost certainly result in a busy freight window at night so CSX could still move the liquid traffic. While that would be fine operationally (aside from some wear and tear on the tracks), it would create a bunch of angry NIMBYs when they started hearing a bunch more trains in the middle of the night.

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On 10/27/2022 at 11:04 AM, jthomas said:

Yes, rapid east-west rail is needed. But a 26 mile LRT system is not the way to do it. There are existing tracks that already go from downtown Matthews to the airport, via Gateway Station. As in, you could literally run a train on that routing today. The LRT mode is better suited for a more local service pattern anyway - its strong suits are the ability to have street running and fairly minimal stations that fit well in an urban environment.

I'll keep banging this drum - express regional service should be mainline rail. Buy out CSX from Monroe to Bostic, build dedicated passenger tracks alongside NS from Gateway to CLT (bonus: these could be used to extend the Piedmonts to the airport), and truncate Silver Line LRT to be focused on local urban service that doesn't duplicate existing rail rights of way. All of that could likely be done for less money than the cost of the current plan.

I believe you're confusing light rail with street car. Those are two different modes. Light rail to function as a useful service in this region should be grade separated with its own right-of-way. 

We already have a streetcar (Gold Line) but the Silver Line does not need to be a streetcar service in Uptown Charlotte.  Interlining is just going to be a waste of time and resources. As the reliability of the service will be dependent of the interaction with cars, cyclists,  and pedestrians at intersections on increasingly congested streets.  That's not a reliable nor useful transit mode. We're not Denver, Salt Lake, Portland, nor Sacramento, where they're are in states more willing to offer supplemental passenger rail and commuter rail services that allows such inefficiencies.  

The LYNX Silver Line should be grade separated throughout the region and be both a rapid rail with local service in areas of Uptown, other dense urban neighborhoods along the adopted locally preferred alternative.

The mobility hubs along the alignment and elsewhere in the CATS service area would provide direct connections to other transit modes. 

Edited by kayman
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1 hour ago, kayman said:

I believe your confusing light rail with street car. Those are two different modes. Light rail to function as a useful service in this region should be grade separated with its own right-of-way. 

Sorry to randomly interject, but "light rail" is an amorphous term. It usually does mean what we might call "street cars," or "trams" with both ROW and street-running services. The Blue Line serves as a "metro"-style line, which would more traditionally be "heavy rail," but was implemented with LRT hardware here because "light rail" was a fad during the '00s.

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1 hour ago, kayman said:

I believe your confusing light rail with street car. Those are two different modes. Light rail to function as a useful service in this region should be grade separated with its own right-of-way. 

We already have a streetcar (Gold Line) but the Silver Line does not need to be a streetcar service in Uptown Charlotte.  Interlining is just going to be a waste of time and resources. As the reliability of the service will be dependent of the interaction with cars, cyclists,  and pedestrians at intersections on increasingly congested streets.  That's not a reliable nor useful transit mode. We're not Denver, Salt Lake, Portland, nor Sacramento, where they're are in states more willing to offer supplemental passenger rail and commuter rail services that allows such inefficiencies.  

The LYNX Silver Line should be grade separated throughout the region and be both a rapid rail with local service in areas of Uptown, other dense urban neighborhoods along the adopted locally preferred alternative.

The mobility hubs along the alignment and elsewhere in the CATS service area would provide direct connections to other transit modes. 

No, I am not confused about the distinction between LRT and streetcar. What you are describing are different types of service patterns - local urban service and rapid, longer-distance regional service. I am in agreement with you about the need for both. You are right that the rapid regional service needs to have a fully, or nearly so, grade-separated route. My point is that route already exists *right now*, it serves basically the same destinations as the proposed Silver Line, and it could be acquired for far less cost than the proposed solution of building a redundant and incompatible LRT line. There is no technical reason why you couldn't run trains every 15 minutes or less on mainline rail. It is done all over the world. A new LRT alignment should serve areas that currently do not have access to a rail line.

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Completely agree with JThomas.

19 minutes ago, asthasr said:

Sorry to randomly interject, but "light rail" is an amorphous term. It usually does mean what we might call "street cars," or "trams" with both ROW and street-running services. The Blue Line serves as a "metro"-style line, which would more traditionally be "heavy rail," but was implemented with LRT hardware here because "light rail" was a fad during the '00s.

I feel like Charlotte is more of an exception of LRT’s that don’t go in mixed-traffic in the core or at least to the side and stopped by traffic lights too. 
 

The good thing about interlining routes is providing more service to the core and less to the outer less dense areas that don’t need the same frequencies. It’s unlikely Charlotte cats would have all day all week 10< Frequencies on its LRT lines. If Charlotte right now had a silver line interline with blue line, with its 20 minute frequencies, you could make the frequency between uptown & SouthEnd 10 minute service of times right. If it went to 12 minute frequencies, it could be every 6 minutes. 
 

15 minute frequencies are useless for urbanites. 10 minutes are somewhat acceptable. 7 minute is good. 5 minutes great. Some of you mentioned how great it would be to have retail uptown to do Christmas shopping at a target uptown. Imagine if you had 3 stops. One you needed a post office. Another you wanted to go to a specific store and 3rd you had another errand. What if you added a 4th of getting a haircut. You can’t do that with 15 minute frequencies. You can go to uptown for a football game or go to an airport from Matthews. But running errands - not feasible. That’s the good thing about interlining. That 20 minute frequency becomes 10 minutes. That 10 becomes 5. Etc 
 

 

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2 hours ago, asthasr said:

Sorry to randomly interject, but "light rail" is an amorphous term. It usually does mean what we might call "street cars," or "trams" with both ROW and street-running services. The Blue Line serves as a "metro"-style line, which would more traditionally be "heavy rail," but was implemented with LRT hardware here because "light rail" was a fad during the '00s.

Per the Texas A&M Transportation Institute,  light rail is on its own dedicated right-of-way and fairly separated from mixed traffic interactions (cars, bikes, and pedestrians). 

https://policy.tti.tamu.edu/strategy/light-rail-transit/

Even the TRB, even says only occasional with street interaction or runs within the street interaction with light rail.

http://onlinepubs.trb.org/Onlinepubs/sr/sr221/221.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwj6ytq7poP7AhU0ZTABHVMrBd4QFnoECFEQAQ&usg=AOvVaw0khjruRFGgf_qlnrWeBxIK

The point is that light rail is different than the streetcar or historical tram systems.  It's basically regional rapid rail transit utilizing a different technology mode.

Edited by kayman
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Pardon my lack of technical terms here, I'm not too familiar with the terminology.

I think one thing that makes the Blue Line unique and useful is that it functions entirely separate from traffic and roadways for its entire length - no hopping onto roads, no waiting at stoplights, etc. It acts like a regular train or heavy rail, as someone pointed out above, because all traffic yields to it and in many cases crossings are avoided altogether. It was actually sort of a surprise to me when I learned that many other cities' "light rail systems" effectively become streetcars in the downtown areas - even cities with pretty fleshed out systems like Portland and SLC. 

If we are going to interline the Gold and Silver lines I would want to see basically the removal of car traffic on that stretch of Trade St. Make it a rail and pedestrian route through Uptown. Have all crossings with Uptown roads force cars to stop and wait for the trains to pass. This would also basically make the Gold line a light rail through Uptown too. I don't have any idea if this is feasible, I guess I'm just talking about my ideal picture of it (well, true ideal would be a subway running under Trade St, but whatever). Maybe it would ruin Uptown traffic flow or make certain buildings inaccessible to necessary car traffic. Anyone have any idea if this is a possibility?

I'm guessing terms like "grade-separation" and "right of way" would have been useful in my comment here but I don't have a firm enough grasp on them to use them lol.

Edited by Reverie39
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