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The Democratic National Convention was held in Charlotte Sept. 4-6, 2012. WFAE's comprehensive coverage of the event is found here.

Bus Association Tries To Stop DNC From Chartering CATS Buses

The group that represents hundreds of private bus companies wants to prevent the Charlotte Area Transit System from leasing out its buses during the DNC.

Thousands of delegates and media will be hopping on buses to get from their hotels to the main convention area. DNC organizers expect it will take about 250 450 buses to get people around. But they found they don't have enough buses to accommodate wheelchairs.

That's why the DNC Committee says it wants to charter CATS buses. Transit system buses are usually off limits for charters. But CATS has asked the Federal Transit Administration for a waiver. DNC organizers say they've exhausted the supply of all private bus companies within the region that have wheelchair accessible buses.

But American Bus Association spokesman Dan Ronan says that's not the case.

"There's ample supply. It just looks like the people who set the convention up didn't look very hard," says Ronan.

The group has sent a letter to the FTA to deny CATS request. It says CATS has failed to notify private bus companies before offering up its own buses.

Charles Young owns Capital Bus Lines near Columbia, South Carolina. He has some wheelchair accessible buses and is frustrated the DNC has tapped CATS, instead of him.

"Even if I was only able to use those few, it would still be a help for any small business to get some work out of the DNC," says Young.

DNC organizers expect to rent up to 60 CATS buses the transit system no longer uses. They say their design makes it easier to accommodate wheelchairs without sacrificing seating. The City of Charlotte expects to make around $189,000 from the agreement.