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Is public transit in Charlotte off-road? A longtime planner weighs in – WSOC TV

CHARLOTTE- Michael Gallis studies cities and transport networks across the country and the world as a planning consultant. Gallis owns a locally based consulting firm. Over the years he has advised the city government and Charlotte Douglas International Airport on light rail, freight and development.

In the 1990s, Gallis’ company helped create the five-lane transit plan that spurred what is now the Lynx Blue Line, a 19-mile light rail route that departs from UNC Charlotte through downtown, then south to Interstate 485 at South Boulevard.

Much to Gallis’ chagrin, the original vision for public transit has morphed and evolved since voters approved a half-cent sales tax in 1998 to fund what was originally planned as connecting the corridors of Light Rail. Among the setbacks and notable changes: repeated unsuccessful attempts to link the city center with northern Mecklenburg; the addition of a controversial and, so far, little-used tram line; and a lack of consistency in travel modes and locations that can create frustration among users.

Gallis told the Charlotte’s Business Diary that the city made a mistake by failing to build the light rail system in its entirety as a top priority.

Over the past two years, city government and business leaders have tried – and so far failed – to garner support for a $13.5 billion transit plan it would require a 1-cent sales tax increase and would be built in phases over two decades.

At the same time, Charlotte remains one of the fastest growing cities in the country, which means traffic is only getting worse. Added to these challenges are service delays caused by labor shortages and absences; attacks on bus drivers (including the shooting death of a driver in February); and skepticism among Charlotte City Council members about whether to fund the remaining 6 miles of streetcar line.

Attempt to combine light rail with commuter rail and a streetcar line — and without defined central transfer point — amounts, according to Gallis, to “creating a zoo. People who travel on light rail like to stay on light rail. We are creating a transit zoo.

The streetcar, which consists of a 4-mile operating service from Hawthorne Lane east of downtown through downtown and west to Johnson C. Smith University, “is an exercise in futility,” he added. “Why don’t we have a streetcar map? This idea that we extend it – why didn’t we design it as a light rail? »

Gallis discussed these and other questions in several recent interviews with JCB.

Read more here.

(WATCH BELOW: FTA provides CATS with funds to launch on-demand transit service)