CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is moving into the next phase of building the new transportation system: finalizing the design. The agency spent the last month engaging riders to get feedback on the new transportation center.
These last few weeks were really about hearing from people who use the bus and light rails, as well as the bus drivers; CATS leaders aimed to learn more about their needs when it comes to creating a better travel experience and reliable service.
“The transit center is a key component of our overall mobility system,” CEO John Lewis said.
He added that the current transportation center is outdated and no longer meets the needs of its customers.
In October, through pop-ups, virtual meetings and surveys, CATS presented two options to hundreds of riders and bus drivers.
“A modified two-level terrace option at one level at light rail, so above street level... and then a street level portion of that," the director of planning, Jason Lawrence, said. "Then we modified the concourse option to better improve traffic flow with buses going in and out of the facility."
The agency found most participants preferred transferring in Uptown over other locations throughout the city. A third did not feel safe crossing the bus travel lanes at the current center. Improved lighting and visible security presence were also ranked as important factors for the new facility.
“I think we have an ongoing concern after the driver shooting and other incidents about keeping everybody safe, who is riding on buses are traveling on trains,” Ed Driggs, chair of the Transportation, Planning and Development Committee, said.
The agency said safety and overall personal security are priorities.
“We heard very clearly from our riders and bus operators that we need to ensure that the people who are in our facility are there for transit use,” Lewis said.
The goal is to have a temporary center built by 2024 or 2025.
“Both options are going to be safe and secure we would not design a facility that is not safe and secure if we are going to make this generational investment,” Lawrence said.
A permanent location will be built and operating between 2028 and 2029. The price tag is estimated at about $89 million.
More than half of the participants leaned towards the concourse option.
“You can see the bus-to-bus transfer, safety and security and climate control ranked as high positives for the concourse,” Lawrence said. “Where and the bus to rail transfer and the natural lighting ranked higher on the terrace option.”
Committee members did request for the agency to connect with corporate partners and stay in touch with the Charlotte Hornets on their feedback and what they would like to see.
Both designs also prioritize the use of electric buses as the city continues to grow its fleet.
So what’s next? CATS leaders plan to have a final recommendation on Jan. 3 and an action review by the city council on Jan. 9.
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