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Charlotte Area

CATS Plans Bus System Overhaul, For Faster, More Direct Commutes

File photo of CATS CEO John Lewis
David Boraks
CATS CEO John Lewis announced the bus system overhaul at the Transit Center uptown Tuesday.

Charlotte Area Transit System has begun planning for an overhaul of the region's bus system. CATS CEO John Lewis says the goal of the Envision My Ride effort is to reach more people, increase the frequency of buses, and cut travel times.

CATS CEO John Lewis was at the transit center uptown Tuesday afternoon to kick off the first phase: Surveying riders about their commutes.  

“We need to make sure our bus system, which moves 80 percent of our passengers, meets the needs of those passengers. But not just the ability to get from point A to point B, but to be able to make that trip in the most efficient way possible,” Lewis told WFAE.

Lewis said CATS is looking ahead because the region has grown so quickly in recent years, and the transit system needs to keep pace.

Today many riders have long commutes with multiple transfers. Lewis says CATS is planning how to update its 72 local, regional and express routes to give more riders a shorter commute.  

“If the average ride is 90 minutes, what will it take for us to get to 60 minutes, what will it take to get the average ride down to 45 minutes, etcetera,” Lewis said.

That could include de-emphasizing the current "hub-and-spoke" system - which requires many commuters to ride downtown to the transit center, then on to their destinations.

“There will still be some hub-and-spoke because the center city is a major destination,” Lewis said. “But we'll have a lot more cross-county routes, and our goal is to make as many of our riders accessible to their destinations without transferring.”

The plan also calls for adjusting routes next summer so they intersect with the Lynx Blue Line light rail from uptown to UNC Charlotte.  The line is scheduled to open in August, before classes start at the university.

When CATS finishes its plan, officials will present the Metropolitan Transit Commission with proposals for route adjustments and some new routes, then seek funding to carry it out.

You can find out more about Envision My Ride and take the survey at RideTransit.org