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Charlotte Center City Streetcar Network


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Streetcar #401 in the wild at North yard. Testing (in the yard) was underway this afternoon.      

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7 hours ago, DEnd said:

They could go to Plaza with only minor teardowns.  From Plaza to Pecan you could make the right lane streetcar, busses, and right turn only, Make a no left turn on Thomas, and add a Left turn lane at Pecan.  Add in signal priority  and you should be able to get decent time through there.  If you give Central a bit of a road diet and are OK with a 35mph speed on the line then you can do the same through out the corridor.  You'd probably have to buy a lane worth of ROW that way plus bump outs for bus stops so that busses don't stop the streetcar at adjacent stops.   Of course if they do that I'd also advocate for a separated bike lane for as long as they can possibly get.  The major downside  to that approach is travel time.  I don't know what the reduction would be over say a fully separated ROW  where you can get higher speeds.

There's also another option.  Add a public parking deck at pecan station and instead of turning on Central at Clement continue down to commonwealth  stop at Pecan and Commonwealth and then up Plaza to Central to the planned stop at Plaza on Central.  This would ad a direct connection to the Blue line, ad fairly convenient parking to Plaza Midwood, and add an extra street car stop to the business district.  The downside would be a couple of extra minutes of travel time, and added cost.  

Sounds good but I will need to look up a map since not all are that familiar with Plaza-Midwood, unless you can mark a map with red outlining this idea??

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They could go to Plaza with only minor teardowns.  From Plaza to Pecan you could make the right lane streetcar, busses, and right turn only, Make a no left turn on Thomas, and add a Left turn lane at Pecan.  Add in signal priority  and you should be able to get decent time through there.  If you give Central a bit of a road diet and are OK with a 35mph speed on the line then you can do the same through out the corridor.  You'd probably have to buy a lane worth of ROW that way plus bump outs for bus stops so that busses don't stop the streetcar at adjacent stops.   Of course if they do that I'd also advocate for a separated bike lane for as long as they can possibly get.  The major downside  to that approach is travel time.  I don't know what the reduction would be over say a fully separated ROW  where you can get higher speeds.

There's also another option.  Add a public parking deck at pecan station and instead of turning on Central at Clement continue down to commonwealth  stop at Pecan and Commonwealth and then up Plaza to Central to the planned stop at Plaza on Central.  This would ad a direct connection to the Blue line, ad fairly convenient parking to Plaza Midwood, and add an extra street car stop to the business district.  The downside would be a couple of extra minutes of travel time, and added cost.  

046f428dbef7f21d93222bb9e6f19412.jpg
Am I crazy for suggesting this is alignment? Lol
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On 2/11/2021 at 3:17 PM, Hushpuppy321 said:

Sounds good but I will need to look up a map since not all are that familiar with Plaza-Midwood, unless you can mark a map with red outlining this idea??

sure.  The gold line in this example is right lane running.  Right lanes would be reserved for streetcars, busses, and right turn only except for public transit.  There is no left turn from either direction onto Thomas.  The tricky part is in front of Fuel Pizza as it needs a left turn lane onto Pecan, though you could re-route that traffic onto Plaza and Commonwealth.

PN gold1.png

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This option puts another Gold Line  stop in  Plaza Midwood, adds public parking, creates an option for retail/commercial at the stop, and basically a direct connection to the Blue Line.  

 

PM gold2.png

Edited by DEnd
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7 hours ago, tozmervo said:

I haven't heard it brought up in years - have there been any rumors or anything about a movement to separate CSX from Central? 

I haven't heard any rumors about the line in years. I also have the feeling that the topography (the tracks go over Hawthorne and under Independence) and the adjacent new construction would make grade separation a very expensive job. I would think that, engineering wise, raising Central to go over the existing tracks would be the most feasible option, but that would be really tough now with the new apartments on the north side of the street.

It does appear that the line is just (barely) busy enough for CSX to keep it, but not busy enough to spend any money to improve. I think they route all the oil trains from Paw Creek to the west and its just the intermodal terminal that keep the tracks live.

Without looking at the parcels, it did occur to me that if a parking deck could be built that straddled the CSX tracks behind Bistro Le Bon, perhaps the streetcar tracks could be engineered to run along a cantalevered (ish) portion of the deck?

Edited by kermit
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5 hours ago, southslider said:

The Plaza section of Central isn't much different than Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. If articulated buses work there, they can work here. Streetcars aren't great for long-distance corridors.

Articulated buses would be great! Bus route 9 with 10 minute headways is a much more efficient routing into Uptown as well from Plaza Midwood. Unless somebody specifically needs to go to Elizabeth / Presbyterian Hospital, you are adding an extra .5 miles on to the trip to Uptown by taking the street car. Central / Hawthorne to CTC on Route 9 is 1.5 miles versus 2 miles and 2 extra lighted intersections on the streetcar.  I understand the streetcar is better for development, but from a mobility perspective, better buses on route 9 would be very welcome. 

Edited by CLT2014
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6 hours ago, CLT2014 said:

Articulated buses would be great! Bus route 9 with 10 minute headways is a much more efficient routing into Uptown as well from Plaza Midwood. Unless somebody specifically needs to go to Elizabeth / Presbyterian Hospital, you are adding an extra .5 miles on to the trip to Uptown by taking the street car. Central / Hawthorne to CTC on Route 9 is 1.5 miles versus 2 miles and 2 extra lighted intersections on the streetcar.  I understand the streetcar is better for development, but from a mobility perspective, better buses on route 9 would be very welcome. 

I'm pretty sure the NCGA finally changed the law that had been preventing CATS from purchasing busses over 45ft in length, which includes articulated busses. CATS had put out a proposal in 2020 for new bus vendors and it included articulated busses, but I don't know that any have been officially contracted for purchase. 

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I have posted this before and there is a lot more videos too from Houston Metro which runs in the street in most places.  

There will be unfortunately a learning curve for Charlotte with these streetcars too.  I hope our local media shows some of these so people can be aware as the people in the QC are no smarter or dumber than those in Houston.   I have driven down S Main St in Houston where the train runs right up the street and even though I wanted to go left I turned right and went around the block  then crossed the tracks. 

Be Train Aware these things can not stop on a dime and I sure someone on UP knows the weight of these streetcars.

Caught on Camera: Houston Metro Light Rail Collision and Near Misses - YouTube

 

 

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1 hour ago, Eightane said:

One underrated aspect of this finally opening is that UNCC, CPCC and Johnson C. Smith will be linked by mass transit, and permanent lines too (not changeable like bus routes). It won't mean much for older residents but for the collegiate set I see it helping social- and connectivity-issues. Especially once COVID is fully squashed.

The reality is that CPCC and Johnson C. Smith would only lose bus service if the city looses bus service.  In many ways the streetcar will most likely cause a reduction in service in the center city.  That said that isn't necessarily a bad thing, as much of the service in uptown is redundant, and for some people will reduce the trip time across uptown.  Ideally the line will act as a collector for a few bus lines to get people in and through uptown.  Done correctly it could reduce transfer times as well, though that requires increasing service on the lines the streetcar is collecting from.  

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10 hours ago, JacksonH said:

Trams and trains create a strong feeling of connectivity in a way that buses never do.  When I was a student at UNCC back in ancient times I can recall some of my friends who were foreign nationals who had no car using buses to get around (when they weren't hitching rides with me).  This was long before the Internet, so figuring out bus stops (which were not visible except for little signs), routes and schedules was more complicated.  But when there are tracks on the ground the vehicle that travels on those tracks usually goes in one direction, then turns around and comes back to the same location where you got on.  You can't get lost.  I think college students would be far more likely to get on a train than a bus. And most of the places someone in that age group would be interested in going in Charlotte can be found along the Blue Line or Gold Line.  Exceptions might be the Whitewater Center and Carowinds.

Don't get me wrong I basically agree with you.  Heck you can search this thread and there are many time I've said I support this portion of the line for many of the reasons you state, but frequency, reliability and total travel times are more important than mode. The advantage rail has over busses is it has higher frequency, is more reliable (than standard bus service), and runs in more dense areas so more trips are able to be done on the line(s) resulting in lower travel times, none of which holds especially true for the streetcar.  The street car likely won't see an increase in ridership over busses in for trips within uptown, but like I said before that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  

I'm just saying don't diminish the role of bus service, it's an important part of our mass transit system.   Done properly busses will be a part of quite a lot of trips that use the Blue Line and Gold Line. 

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2 hours ago, Yeahdoug said:

How much would it cost annually to make this hop on, hop off free?  Seems like the running costs could be offset by economic dev along the line?? 

About $5 million to fully cover the costs.  Or about $3 million to replace expected revenue.  Edit: that's not actually expected revenue that's expected ridership multiplied by price, a lot of that ridership will be transfers.  

Edited by DEnd
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How easy would it be to fare jump on this line? I'm not encouraging it, but at the same time, if they're gonna be hard asses about it (like the driver won't move until everyone has paid) I could see there being delays. I know it's not uncommon in many European cities for people to jump on the tram and jump off at the next stop. Once again, not encouraging it, but I think the net benefit of someone getting on at Gateway and getting off at the square would outweigh lost revenue for a short ride. 

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1 hour ago, nakers2 said:

How easy would it be to fare jump on this line? I'm not encouraging it, but at the same time, if they're gonna be hard asses about it (like the driver won't move until everyone has paid) I could see there being delays. I know it's not uncommon in many European cities for people to jump on the tram and jump off at the next stop. Once again, not encouraging it, but I think the net benefit of someone getting on at Gateway and getting off at the square would outweigh lost revenue for a short ride. 

On the bright side, I bet the overwhelming majority of users will be people transferring to other routes or light rail. So. Technically, they would have paid because transfers are free (excluding to Express buses which you have to pay a bit more) 
 

On the other hand, it allows people to transfer thrice.

when I went to UNCC, I abused the system riding the Arrowood bus to Arrowood light rail & then Transferring to the North Tryon bus at CTC using my arrowood ticket to transfer. 

the other positive is the ones most likely to abuse it very frequently would be college students. Light Rail is built into tuition whether you use it or not so. 

If I’m going to be perfectly honest. I always pay my fair but just using it to go from say CTC to Elizabeth. So hard to justify wanting to pay the fare. 
 

The streetcar in DC is free. Hard to enforce but also. Who would wanna pay to ride a short distance. It’s not like people riding on that one or the one in Charlotte will be riding from end-to-end 

Edited by AirNostrumMAD
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