TRANSPORTATION

Apr 27, 2020
Across the Charlotte region, parks have been full and streets largely empty for the past several weeks, as people try to get out of their houses for fresh air and exercise while staying home from work and school. Other cities have been opening vast stretches of their streets to walkers, joggers, bicyclists and others seeking outdoor space while following social distance guidelines. The logic is simple: Auto traffic has plunged to levels no one could imagine two months ago, while millions of people need more places to be outside than often-inadequate parks. 
Mar 09, 2020
A steady rain of giggles falls on a busy street in Uptown Charlotte. It’s May 2019, and a neat row of see-saws undulate back and forth, bright LED strips highlighting their movement, as elated, carefree riders push off. The smell of food trucks serving eager patrons wafts through the air. Parents watch, relaxed, knowing they don’t have to pull their child out of oncoming traffic, as kids run about.  You stop to marvel, and think: “Why isn’t it always like this?” 
Feb 24, 2020
Leaders from across the region gathered Monday in a conference room at Charlotte Douglas International Airport with an ambitious goal: Creating a comprehensive plan for public transit, covering a dozen counties and setting the transit agenda for decades.  Called CONNECT Beyond, the 18-month planning effort by the Centralina Council of Governments is, to put it simply, big. The planning area covers 12 counties, in two states, with 17 different transit systems. Previous transit planning efforts have been focused mostly on one county at a time. The goal here is to come up with a plan to coordinate and prioritize projects, as well as funding requests, across the whole region.  “Twenty years from now, I think everyone is going to look back on this as the jumping-off point,” said John Muth, the Charlotte Area Transit System’s chief development officer. 
Feb 10, 2020
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.
Jan 16, 2020
Charlotte faces a wide range of needs, from affordable housing to more police, bigger parks and better transit, but they all share a similar root cause: growth.  That was one of the main themes at City Council’s annual planning retreat, held this week over four days in Durham at the Washington Duke Inn. There was little anxiety about when the city’s boom might end. Instead, the focus was on ways to manage, change and deal with the side effects of a booming city.  “We’re growing faster than we’re putting in that critical infrastructure around it, and people are feeling the pain,,” said council member Tariq Bokhari. 
Jan 15, 2020
There’s been a lot of planning lately for Charlotte’s growing transit system, with new rail lines, improved bus service and the first inter-county transit links in the works — as well as questions about how to pay for that growth But one Charlotte City Council member raised a different idea this week at the group’s annual retreat: How about getting rid of fares altogether?
Dec 06, 2019
It’s hard shopping for the city that has it all: Gleaming office towers, a new-ish light rail line, a booming population and one of the world’s busiest airports. But that doesn’t mean Charlotte couldn't still use a few gifts this holiday season. After all, despite the city’s obvious and explosive growth, there are still plenty of challenges: Housing that’s too expensive for many, a rising violent crime and murder rate, increasing traffic and low economic mobility for those born into poverty.  So, what would you get Charlotte this year, if you could gift the city anything? I took a (very informal, totally unscientific) poll on Twitter, and received more than 100 replies and suggestions. 
Nov 22, 2019
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.
Sep 24, 2019
Charlotte has a reputation as a car city, but many of its leaders badly want to promote more biking, walking and transit use. That’s one reason an intriguing idea kept surfacing at this week’s City Council Transportation & Planning Committee meeting: Why not take all the cars off a major street in uptown or South End, creating a pedestrian-only space?
Aug 29, 2019
The Charlotte Area Transit System took another step towards expanding the region’s transit network this week, with recommendations for how to extend the Blue Line light rail about five miles through Pineville to Ballantyne.  At the Metropolitan Transit Commission, staff presented their...
Aug 21, 2019
Next year’s news cycle is already looking pretty crowded, between big-ticket events like the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, the summer Olympics in Tokyo and, of course, the 2020 presidential, gubernatorial and congressional elections.  But if there weren’t so much else going on, 2020 might be known as something else in Charlotte: The Year of the Plan.
Jul 31, 2019
Since City Council approved TOD Article 15 - the new Transit-Oriented Development ordinance - last April, land use consultants, architects, real estate attorneys and other insiders have had ample opportunity to sort out these new rules. As for laypersons, gleaning what they need to know from TOD’s eighty-one page assemblage of definitions, rules, standards, charts and graphics can be a real challenge, despite efforts by staff planners to make the document as jargon-free and user-friendly as possible. 
Jul 29, 2019
After visiting a city with a waterfront, maybe stopping for a drink and a bite to eat along whichever river or ocean it’s built along, I’m usually left with one overriding thought: “Wow, Charlotte could really use some of this.” Water plays a prominent role in the design and history of most cities, whether it be a river, bay or ocean. And Charlotte’s skyline and downtown sit tantalizingly close-but-yet-so-far from a major river and lake system. So, the question looms: Why isn’t Charlotte built on the water?  It’s a straightforward question I realized I had never actually asked, despite a decade living in Charlotte. So I called up an expert. 
Jul 02, 2019
Charlotte’s suburbs are starting to look more like urban areas, and a new study is pointing to the value to be gained from promoting walkable, transit-connected, urban-style growth. Real estate experts have said they’re responding to market pressure: Businesses, workers and residents want to get from home to work to dinner without spending big chunks of their day in a car, and suburban-style developments that cater exclusively to drivers no longer cut it. 
Jun 25, 2019
The year was 1955, but the city’s problems would look pretty familiar to its modern residents. Charlotte was confronted with growing traffic, inadequate transportation options, a lack of park space and the fear that growth was running away without a real, comprehensive plan.
Jun 18, 2019
It’s happening across Charlotte: Apartments, office buildings and restaurants are popping up in parking lots, as dense, mixed-use developments, connected by bicycle paths and walking trails, invade suburbia. What’s driving the shift at some of the city’s most iconic suburban centers?
Jun 02, 2019
Three counties outside Mecklenburg have now expressed formal - though nonbinding - support for bringing a regional rail system of some kind across the border. That would be a first for Charlotte, where rail-based mass transit has so far been confined to within the city limits.
May 28, 2019
As Charlotte grows denser and more urban, parts of the city built decades ago on an auto-centric, suburban framework are struggling to both absorb more traffic and adapt to new beliefs about how people should get around. A one-mile stretch of congested road in fast-growing University City illustrates the tensions between balancing the needs of cars and pedestrians, as well as local residents and commuters, in an area where the distinction between urban and suburban is starting to blur.
May 15, 2019
The Charlotte region is taking concrete steps towards building a regional transit system, and, in a local first, the proposed Silver Line could run through three counties. But plenty of big questions remain. Chief among them: Who will pay?
May 14, 2019
It’s a familiar story: A new transit line opens, spurring gentrification in nearby neighborhoods and pushing out long-time residents.  But is that always what happens? New research from UNC Charlotte suggests the story is more complicated. 
May 06, 2019
We asked a dozen Charlotte community leaders from different walks of life one question: What does the city need more than anything in its new vision for growth? From designing for people instead of cars to building more equitably to not imposing too many regulations, here’s what they had to say. 
May 01, 2019
Is the city's first protected bicycle lane, now open in uptown, a model for expansion - or a solution that only works in certain parts of Charlotte? Advocates hope it's the former, but they acknowledge that the city has a long way to go.
Apr 25, 2019
As cities continue to grow and thrive, with downtowns reviving and old neighborhoods being redeveloped, is their future still really in the suburbs? That's what one advocate said this week at a real estate forum, provoking debate about growth, transit and sprawl.
Sep 25, 2018
What with Lyft, Uber, dockless bike-share and electric scooters, urban travel is changing. Even the basic notion of a parking deck now gets more scrutiny. Commentary.
Aug 06, 2018
Despite rosy predictions, it seems ride-hailing companies are displacing trips by transit, bike and on foot. Cities like Charlotte need to work actively to keep them from worsening congestion. Commentary.
Apr 02, 2018
The landscape along Charlotte’s Lynx Blue Line light rail offers reminders of Charlotte’s once-agricultural past, its long and continuing industrial history, and its booming future. Come along on a photo journey.
Mar 15, 2018
The arrival of light rail may well be the most transformational event in the history of both UNC Charlotte and the University City district. Is the city prepared for all the growth predicted?
Oct 24, 2017
Can a suburban area be truly green? One city in Germany offers lessons in building a family-friendly environment with a small carbon footprint. Commentary.
Aug 01, 2017
Bike sharing has arrived at UNC Charlotte. The program launched with 100 bikes at 10 campus locations.
Jun 30, 2017
In addition to studying how to accommodate growing ethnic diversity – needed in many cities, not just Houston and Charlotte – there’s another lesson Houston might hold for Charlotte: Finding the money to build out an ambitious greenway plan. They call them bayous. We call them creeks. But both...
Jun 07, 2017
This interactive map takes you on a virtual visit along the proposed Cross Charlotte Trail, with photos, updates on construction, little-known facts and information on plans for the future.
May 17, 2017
A proposed new bicycle plan for Charlotte hits the mark in many ways. But without dedicated funding, will it be merely a feel-good exercise? Commentary. 
May 09, 2017
Charlotte joins cities around the world in adopting a Vision Zero goal that aims to cut traffic deaths and serious injuries. 
Mar 29, 2017
At a public discussion April 4, hear how this champion for bicycling and pedestrians helped tame New York’s streets.
Mar 28, 2017
With surveys showing plenty of Charlotteans would bicycle more if they felt safer, city planners propose two better-protected bike routes through uptown. 
Mar 13, 2017
When more people bicycle, we all win – even those who never ride. Diving into the results from a Charlotte bicycling survey offers clues to some existing inequities. Commentary.
Mar 06, 2017
A new initiative is using prizes as incentive to encourage people to reduce single-occupancy trips by car. The project runs March 1-Oct. 31.
Jan 19, 2017
Should the regional transit commission take on operating costs for the Charlotte streetcar? Former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx makes that suggestion in an interview while reflecting on his tenure as U.S. transportation secretary.
Nov 30, 2016
Light rail to the UNC Charlotte campus will transform transportation options in the area, from parking to buses to an on-campus bike-share program that debuts next year. 
Oct 11, 2016
A years-long debate over where to locate the county’s still-unfunded southeast transit corridor – the Silver Line – may be ending this month. But one huge problem remains. 
Sep 20, 2016
One recent weekend we took a driving trip from Boston to the coast. The next day we took a trip to the same area, using trains, bikes and buses. Afterward, I realized how different the two journeys had been. Commentary.
Sep 12, 2016
By 2040 Charlotte will grow by 400,000 people, city transportation planners project. How can Charlotte handle all the new daily trips? A 25-year plan would spend $5 billion.
Sep 07, 2016
Transportation planning in the greater Charlotte region is split among five planning groups. Will a federal push to consolidate make a difference?
Apr 26, 2016
Street Fight, a new book about New York’s efforts to improve pedestrian and bicycle amenities, is also relevant to Charlotte or any city feeling the tension between today’s auto-addicted culture and a growing chorus wanting more balance in the transportation system.
Apr 01, 2016
Bus 1074, one of GM's “New Look” buses that debuted in Charlotte in 1972, has found new life, thanks to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.
Mar 24, 2016
Most of the ideas about SouthPark from a group of out-of-town development experts were what you’d hope to hear: create connections, try public-private partnerships, build a better public realm. But a few comments might raise questions or even baffle some Charlotteans. Commentary.
Mar 03, 2016
Two new, high-visibility bicycling campaigns rolled out this week, each an attempt to get more Charlotteans riding—and with more support from the city. The most obvious will be an Open Streets event this spring. 
Jan 20, 2016
Could Charlotte’s SouthPark mall area grow into a place of city-style rather than suburban-style neighborhoods? UNC Charlotte graduate students envision a different look for the area.
Jan 12, 2016
The political and community debate over Interstate 77 raises a larger question: whether we as a region can move beyond a “business as usual” approach in seeking solutions and instead embrace new concepts about how we live and how we choose to travel around our region. Commentary.
Dec 08, 2015
The street beside uptown's new First Ward Park has plenty of parking but no bike lanes. What does that signal about the city's commitment to improved bicycling infrastructure? Commentary.