Posted on August 2, 2012 at 7:04 AM
Monday, Aug 6 at 5:49 PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Transit officials on Wednesday released details of route changes to buses and the Lynx light-rail line during the Democratic National Convention – the latest update about how the city will operate during the event.
Buses will run on their normal schedules, and routes will only change as the buses approach the Interstate 277 beltline and avoid streets blocked off for convention security, transit officials say. The nearly 30,000 people who ride buses to and from uptown each day will not be significantly inconvenienced by the changes, transit leaders said.
“We’re expecting the same number (of riders) and more,” said Olaf Kinard, Charlotte Area Transit System’s director of marketing and communications. “We expect our regular customers and people coming up for the convention.”
But some riders expressed frustration about the changes.
“With the rerouting I don’t think I’ll ride,” said Jacob Fleming, who lives near Sharon Road and said he uses CATS buses and the light rail four days a week.
City leaders have said the city will be open for business during the convention. But with Democrats set to arrive a month from now, security officials are announcing plans that could make large swaths of Charlotteans opt to stay away from the center city.
The Secret Service is expected to announce its security plan soon. And the city manager has designated the convention an “extraordinary event” that triggers a ban of potential weapons such as crowbars. Backpacks can be banned if police believe they carry weapons. Police are expecting thousands of protesters to descend on Charlotte, including one group that has announced it will occupy uptown’s Frazier Park. The police attorney has said officers might block off roads if demonstrators randomly take to the streets.
The bus changes go into effect at 5 a.m. on Sept. 3 and end on Sept. 5. Other details:
• A temporary transit center will be erected on what is now an empty field on South Mint and West Third streets. That’s near the site of the proposed Charlotte Knights baseball stadium and on the same block as a planned exhibit on the presidential experience.
The current transit center on Trade Street sits across from Time Warner Cable Arena, the site of most convention events. In May, city leaders announced it would be closed because of security concerns.
The temporary transit center will have a large air-conditioned tent, bathrooms and food trucks parked outside. City workers will pave parts of the field to make the temporary hub handicapped accessible.
• The Lynx Blue Line will stop running at Stonewall Street, but riders headed toward uptown will be allowed to transfer for free to buses going into uptown.
• Buses will not pick up or drop off passengers in areas that are being rerouted, Kinard said.
The transit system is launching a large public awareness campaign. Transit officials already have revamped the CATS website
with detailed maps, and are passing out brochures on buses and trains. A webinar is planned for Tuesday.
Riders at the transit center on Wednesday fell into two camps – those who say they’ll be inconvenienced by the changes but had no other choice, and those who said they’d avoid uptown altogether.
“It takes me an hour and a half to get to work (already),” said Christopher Miles, from Matthews, who doesn’t own a car and said he rides the bus everyday. “I’m considering renting a car that week.”