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CATS pushes to move uptown bus station underground

Passengers waiting to board a bus
Steve Harrison
Passengers at the Charlotte Transit Center. The city is considering moving uptown's main bus station underground.

The Charlotte Area Transit System said Monday that the best option for a new uptown bus station is to build it underground — in line with the original plan proposed by a private developer.

A private developer, Charlotte-based White Point Partners, wants to move the bus station on Trade Street underground. That would make way for a new tower with offices, stores, restaurants and a hotel to be built on top. The new development might also include a new practice facility for the Charlotte Hornets.

Earlier this year, the city presented renderings of the proposed project, in which bus passengers would take a large escalator to the underground bus terminal.

But some City Council members said they weren’t sure whether that was the best option for passengers.

CATS then said it would let council members decide whether to build the new bus station underground, at street level or on a second or third floor.

But transit officials now told the council’s transportation, planning and development committee Monday that building it at street level doesn’t meet the agency’s goals. They said the best option is to build it underground, though an option on the second or third floor could also work.

But those options are more expensive.

The city says it would cost between $45 and $55 million to build a new bus station at street level and nearly $90 million to build it underground. The public would pay for the project, with financing sources that include the value of the land, federal and local grants.

City Council is scheduled to take a vote on the project early next year. It could open by 2028 or 2029, with a temporary transit center operating for five years during construction.

Republican council member Ed Driggs, who chairs the committee, asked that all options be considered by council, including building the new station at street level.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.