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CATS Long Term Transit Plan - Silver, Red Lines

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Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware of the relative bargain that these prices are. I would have just expected to see the express monthly increase in price a bit more than regular monthly, for example. Its the difference in increases, not the increases themselves, that I found a bit odd. Just a thought, though, I plan to continue getting my regular monthly pass.

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Dallas DART has a full cent Sales Tax whereas LYNX only has the 1/2 Cent Sales Tax. Coincidentily their stations are similar in design to the LYNX where the outside platforms are not fully covered.

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I noticed the station shelters too, at least we're not the only ones getting wet :)

Did Dallas start at a full cent sales tax? I know Salt Lake city voted to up theirs from 1/4 to 1/2, I wonder if the voters in Charlotte would be ready and willing to up ours to a full cent, or maybe just 3/4. I used to think that idea was a bit aggressive considering how much opposition was there for the sales tax, but with the blue lines high ridership and gas prices rising, maybe its a possibility that our leaders can begin discussing.

Edited by Mobuchu

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I noticed the station shelters too, at least we're not the only ones getting wet :)....
Not entirely. I notice they can also afford to build part of as subway which solves a number of problems in dealing with roads. These stations are completely underground away from the elements.

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The short subway part of DART in Dallas (total of 2 stations) is weird to me becuase the subway part is not downtown. The downtown section of DART is at grade along Pacific Ave and is very similar to the Houston setup with mixed traffic and no crossing guards. The subway part starts at the Central Expressway and heads out of town. It would be like if LYNX put the Southend section of the Blue line below ground and the downtown section like it is...at grade. Makes no sense to me.

In any case if we could raise more money for CATS (increase the Sales Tax) then maybe we could start building a downtown subway. The political environment is ripe right now for such an increase to happen...even at the State level. There is serious talk on the State level about letting the surrounding counties levy a 1/4 Cent Sales Tax for Transit....the intent being they would use some of the money to hook into the CATS/Lynx system. There is also talk about letting Meck raise it to 3/4 from 1/2 Cent. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

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Generally speaking, here is what I think should happen. First, over the next two years, we should continue what are currently doing. On the Blue line, we are adding some LRV cars and doing engineering to request federal funds for the NE extension. On the North Purple line, we are trying to resolve the local funding issues due to lack of federal funds available.

Around 2010, we will have a good understanding on where the above efforts have taken us. We should know what the policies of the new administration will be for transit (my hope is that as part of Global Warming legislation, we will get serious transit funding expansion). We will also hopefully have resolved some of the larger issues in the state relating to road funding, which seems to be an imminent topic that McCrory is pushing among others. We will know the results for the North line, and NE extension funding and planning. We will also have more solid data for South line ridership and we will have seen how the city comes out of the banking crisis and the gas crisis we're in now. I don't think we should be looking to expand the tax right now because all those uncertain elements are still uncertain and we are already in a situation where they are planning two lines for the near term (5 years) which would not likely be able to change with funding changes.

At THAT point, I think we will be ready to create an expanded 25-year transit plan (the 2035 Transit Plan), that I believe should include a major new funding source (full-cent transit sales tax or property tax supplement or something).

If we are expanding the transit plan, here are things that I think should be considered:

- Accelerate the rest of the 2030 plan to a ten-year plan to be done by 2020.

- Making plans to upgrade the SouthEast corridor to a rail technology.

- Add additional transit lines/extension between 2020 and 2030 to reach major Activity Centers currently omitted from mass transit (Ballantyne, South Park, University Research Park).

- Add additional streetcar lines within the denser intown neighborhoods that connect to the spoke transit corridors.

I really believe the Blue Line should be extended to Ballantyne and that in 20 years or so there should also be a Blue line spur to URP (I have detailed those proposals in another thread). I also believe there should be partial middle ring circumferential transit (I proposed an airport to SouthPark line that crosses the Blue Line). I also believe there should be an inner ring circumferencial streetcar, connecting NoDa-Midwood-Elizabeth-Inner Myers Park-Dilworth-SouthEnd-Wilmore-Wesley Heights creating multiple transfer options between these dense neighborhoods and the Blue line (at NoDa and SouthEnd), the Green line (at Wesley Heights and Midwood) and the Silver Line (at Elizabeth). That would not only act as a collector for the corridor mass transit line in some of the densest neighborhoods in the city, but it would also serve to connect those neighborhoods for non-commute travel.

Again, these are farther reaching ideas that I think have a place in the city for the 2035 horizon year.

But bringing it back to the point at hand, I think the time to make a major play is after the road issues are resolved as well as our very serious economic crises that are going on right now. I think that will be in about 2 years.

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This is what I posted in November the day after the repeal failed.

Ok, let's talk about improving the 2030 plan

We can raise the half-cent tax to a full-cent and complete the remaineder of the 2030 identified transits lines correctly.....grade separated.

The SE line should be LRT, and be buried in Uptown extending all the way to the new Amtrak/commuter rail station in Graham.....it should then run in the center of Independence above ground.

The NE line should not have any at grade crossings, with bridges probably cheaper than tunneling, though it may be worth tunneling uptown, as a relatively cheap cut/cover would work, and it could be shallow.

The North Communter Rail should be extended to the south all the way to Rock Hill following the existing freight ROW, including station

near the old-coliseum area, served by a community shuttle bus, and a station at the South LRT terminus by I-485.

A second Commuter Rail line should be established running from Gastonia (possibly Kings Mountain) to Kannapolis (possibly China Grove), including stations by CLT airport and UNCC.

The SE line should eventually be extended west to the airport completely GRADE SEPARATED in the Wilkinson median.

The streetcar should be built as planned, obviously not grade separated, and additional crosstown streetcars should be examined, that would link to LRT lines and major commercial centers.

^ Obviously the theme of this is grade separation, and I would highly support upgrading the S line as such. If not, we run into a capacity issue, as CATS has said that won't run less than 5-minute headways. This prevents the current line from adding capacity in the way of additional spurs.

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I think dubone has it about right. Wait a few years to view the funding situation, and then consider the option. I've always thought Denver's Fastracks plan is one that is worth emulating. They are building out their long range plan--122 miles of rail, 18 miles of BRT, 57 stations, and 21k parking spaces--in only 12 years. I believe this is mostly financed through the 0.4 cent sales tax ballot proposal that passed there in 2004. I still like the idea of TIFs, Metropolitan Service Disctricts (MSDs), or PPPs (Bruton Smith?) in helping fill some of the financing gaps along the way... especially for the streetcar line, which could have some of the greatest effects on adjacent land uses.

I think all the above ideas are good to consider: more grade separations, longer platforms, more vehicles, and reduced headways on primary radial lines; looking at rail in the SE; LRT to the speedway and to Ballantyne; extending CR to Rock Hill, Gastonia, Kannapolis, and maybe Monroe. Perhaps the neighboring counties could tap into the 1/4-cent sales tax to fund some bus and rail expansions into their areas.

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The US House voted today to authorize $1.7 billion over the next two years to lower fares and expand operations of public transit throughout the nation. The transit measure is the first time federal money would be used to support local mass transit operating costs. The Senate still has to vote however. Is this the same funding bill that Charlotte's LRT funding is tied to?

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The US House voted today to authorize $1.7 billion over the next two years to lower fares and expand operations of public transit throughout the nation. The transit measure is the first time federal money would be used to support local mass transit operating costs. The Senate still has to vote however. Is this the same funding bill that Charlotte's LRT funding is tied to?

No

Thanks for your usual benevolence. Can anyone give any further information about the bill and whether it will affect Charlotte?

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Thanks for your usual benevolence. Can anyone give any further information about the bill and whether it will affect Charlotte?

The bill has not been resolved or even acted on by the Senate and Bush has indicated that he would veto such spending bills, though in this case the House could probably overturn the veto. It also has had a number of tie-ins to oil drilling an sanctions on the oil companies that may end up dooming it. In any case however, until the Senate does something with it, it's just a newspaper clip.

IMO, there won't be real change to federal transit funding programs until after 2009 and only if the democrats gain full control of the government.

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I am no expert on transit funding but my understanding of the bill is that it will have some affect on Charlotte transit funding. The major funding from the bill will go to section 5307 (750,000,000) and 5311 (100,000,000) programs. These are programs that fund mass transit in large urban areas and non-urban areas. These new funds seem to be allocated on the same formula as before, including population, density and the size of the transit system. Some of the things the funds may be used for include capital improvements, expansion of service, fare reduction and information for commuters.

Raintree

Edited by soccer1guy_99

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$1.7 billion is a laughably small amount of money when you consider how many cities have or are trying to expand transit in the USA. I am glad to see this effort, but I think that the impacts on Charlotte will be relatively small, though any that we receive will be appreciated.

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I'll post this in both the NODA Thread, and in the 2030 Plan thread:

Wikiplanning.org Northeast Extension chat session tonight (7/1/08):

"...We have had tremendous response, and we

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It would seem that parking isn't just an issue at the South LRT's Park & Ride lots. There in an article in today's Huntersville paper about the parking lot at CATS Gateway Station in Huntersville (this is for express buse) also being filled to capacity. Someone said that if you are not there by 7:45, you won't be able to park to get on the bus. CATS is said to be looking for some solutions as there is land nearby that could be used.

It would seem to me they ought to revisit the utilization of the N. CR line as the low numbers projected for it were calculated in the days when gasoline was under $2/gallon.

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There in an article in today's Huntersville paper about the parking lot at CATS Gateway Station in Huntersville (this is for express buse) also being filled to capacity.

The same thing is happening at the Mallard Creek Park & Ride lot.

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It would seem to me they ought to revisit the utilization of the N. CR line as the low numbers projected for it were calculated in the days when gasoline was under $2/gallon.

I completely agree. I knew ridership was increasing and it was cramped, but I didn't realize it had reached the point where you couldn't get a spot at the park and ride for express busses.

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The Project Manager for the CATS North Commuter line will be giving an update on the project at the Third Ward Neighborhood meeting next Tuesday July 22 at 7pm at the Gateway YMCA. He will also update on plans to locate the Vehicle Maintanance Facility in Third Ward as well as the Gateway Station.

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I can't wait to hear the updates on this. The sooner we get decent highspeed rail into Charlotte the better. With the airline industry the way it is, I think the future of rail as a means of long distance travel is starting to look more and more appealing. Of course the N.CR is something I am waiting on too as I plan on using it from day one if it finally gets built. I dream of a day I can sell my car without replacing it!

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Things may bet a bit better in terms of federal money for intracity transit funding. See this article. I could see Charlotte being in a good position to take advantage of this program. However, I don't expect anything to happen this year on this because Bush has said that he would veto such bills. A new administration, next year, might be more accepting of the need for mass transit in American cities.

from that article

400291758_2c2c3c35fc_o.jpg

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Has the consultant been picked for the streetcar study? It went out for RFQ in June early. I would think they'd be close to selection by now. The RFQ focuses on economic development along the streetcar corridor and requests that consultants be able to analyze the potential for added incremental tax base if the streetcar were introduced versus what would occur if it weren't. It seems the primary funding mechanisms are likely to be: (1) increased property taxes, (2) TIF, or (3) Municipal Service Districts (MSD), all of which would be outside the 1/2 cent tax. I think it makes sense to keep the streetcar separate from the half cent tax as a matter of MTC policy, as it's benefits are very localized, not to mention that it can probably be built faster that way and open up the tax money for other corridors to move ahead (SE?).

Personally, I am looking forward to the results of the study, because I think that there is likely to be great potential in funding a major part of the line with TIF or MSDs, which would capture some of the increased local property taxes in close proximity to the corridor (1/4 mile) and apply it to pay back the public investment. I could see a scenario where, say 60% of the capital costs could be covered by MSDs or TIFs, and perhaps the remainder could be paid for through a city bond issue. The perfect case is Eastland Mall, where you have 70 acres waiting to be revitalized. There's obviously great interest and potential on the east side for redevelopment if a streetcar were extended there from center city, and I imagine there's tremendous potential to dramatically increase the tax base (in a decaying shopping center) to pay for it.

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I can't wait to hear the updates on this.

Well here is your update:

You can view the presentation that CATS North Line Project Manager David Carol gave to 3rd Ward here

The latest update for the Gateway station is that it looks like NCDOT will put out an RFQ for a master developer in 1Q09....and that the new Greyhound station will come online in 2011 and Amtrak station in 2013.

More interesting for 3rd Ward is the location and siting of the Vehicle Maintenance Facility next to the current tracks. Included in the presentation is a rendering of what that building could look like.

I think this is a good location for the Vehicle Maintanance Facility...they just need to make sure they can get as much screening as possible between the neighborhood and the tracks to cut down on noise from all the passing trains.

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