At least now, more people will get the opportunity to let this project sink in a little bit before next steps are taken.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to dispel a perception I may have given over the past few weeks and several rants about the current plan for this project. That perception would likely be that I am against mass transit on principle; that I'm one of those arch conservatives who don't believe government has a role in anything; or that the solution to all our transportation problems is to just build more roads.
At the risk of being called a RINO (or worse) I'd have to say that all of those perceptions would be false, inaccurate, and not true.
However, if you try to tell me that a $452 million train, carrying just 2500 round trips per day - a tiny fraction of the overall daily trips in North Mecklenburg - is a good idea that justifies hollowing out our future tax base and burdening business while being rammed through on a schedule based on manufactured dates all to support development that will largely happen anyway, I'm going to tell you it is NOT in fact a good idea. (Above map from RLRR website.)
Now that Norfolk Southern has done the public a favor by slowing down the process, let's take a minute to talk about what would be a viable alternative - buses.
As I mentioned previously, I ride the bus. I've been a regular bus rider for going on 5 years now. More than that, a lifetime ago I used to be a bus driver in college. I drove high end buses just like the CATS vehicles and some old school ones that didn't even have power steering. As a rider, I usually ride the express 77X from North Mecklenbug, but when I lived by Northlake Mall I also rode the local route #7 down Beaties Ford Rd. I've seen that buses are needed, used, and are a valuable public service.
But what would a bus route that could provide similar service look like here in the greater Charlotte area? If you want to see it, you can just go down to the Transit Center in Uptown. It looks like this...
These are high-end buses that already serve the Charlotte area. Two of these pulled in one right behind the other at the Uptown Transportation Center Thursday morning. These type coaches could certainly be used to provide a high quality transportation option along the same corridor as the proposed Red Line. Oh, and if it's not obvious, the lower one is a double-decker bus.
Combine these with the proposed HOT lane for I-77 and you have a highly comparable service at a tiny fraction of the price!
At the Randall O'Toole presentation a few weeks ago, he gave several examples of this type of transportation option as a viable alternative. You could hear the snickers from the train supporters in the room as if this a silly suggestion. Who would ride such a thing when they could be on a train? People going to Charlotte, that's who!
Now that we have this opportunity to take a step back, I hope the transit planners will pause and take a breath. Before they continue trying to commit our community to this highly risky and very expensive project, they should have to very clearly explain why what we already have available could not meet our needs.