Richmond Va. bus rapid transit system shelter

Trains, buses and people: More lessons for Charlotte

In his recent book, Trains, Buses, People – An Opinionated Atlas of US Transit, Christof Spieler dispenses a refreshly forthright  assessment of 47 of America’s larger systems, including Miami, Atlanta, Austin, Houston, Dallas and other Sun Belt cities. Never before has a publication compared this many cities and transit modes for a mainstream audience.

Research included photographs at all locations and interviews with agency staff, elected officials, and advocates. The final product is compressed into a digestible format of full-page maps, abundant infographics and the author’s informed commentary.  Spieler’s opinions derive from several complex factors: political dynamics, funding challenges, planning dilemmas, land use constraints, ridership fluctuations, and conceptual biases all come into play. 

He reveals a few winners, but also a lot of losers. Charlotte hovers precariously in between.

  • ArcGIS Urban model of Charlotte

    What will Charlotte look like? This new tool makes it easier to visualize

    The skyline changes every year in a fast-growing city like Charlotte, as parking lots morph into high-rises and humble houses or older building are demolished to make way for the next big thing. It can be tough to keep track of the changes, and even harder to visualize what a proposed development might look like once it’s actually built. A new tool the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department is planning to adopt soon could make that easier.
  • An apartment construction site at 500 West Trade Street in uptown Charlotte. Photo: Nathan Griffin

    Single-family construction once dominated Mecklenburg, but that’s changed

    After the 2008 recession, apartments came to dominate housing construction in Charlotte, reversing longstanding trends and outpacing the number of single-family buildings. What factors led to this, and will this furious pace of construction be sustainable?
  • CATS buses in uptown Charlotte

    Book review: Can we fix our struggling bus systems?

    There’s been a lot of discussion lately within transit planning circles about how to attract customers to ailing regional bus networks that connect core cities, nearby towns, and far-flung suburbs — including the Charlotte Area Transit System. A handful of bus systems have actually grown, such as Austin, Houston and especially Seattle. But overall, the prognosis for bus ridership is grim.

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