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A skyline that sprouts new buildings at a dizzying pace. Neighborhoods dotted with new breweries and renovated mills. Thousands of new apartments springing up beside light rail lines. The signs of Charlotte’s booming prosperity are everywhere. But that prosperity isn’t spread evenly. And from Charlotte’s “corridors of opportunity,” it can seem a long way off, more like a distant promise than the city’s reality.

Sugar Creek corridor could get on-demand transit service, ‘mobility hubs’

Lisa Worf

Public transit could look a lot different for neighborhoods along West Sugar Creek Road in northeast Charlotte. An Uber-like service is in the works, while the city is trying to get federal money to create what are called “mobility hubs.”

West Sugar Creek is four lanes with a narrow sidewalk running right next to the road. As part of the city’s Corridors of Opportunity plans to focus investment on six historically low-income areas, planners want to build a wide pedestrian and bicycle path. They also want to create three mobility hubs — basically, robust bus stops that allow riders to easily transition from the bus to walking, biking or smaller buses that can navigate neighborhood streets.

The plan was presented to Hidden Valley residents this week. Pamela White with the Charlotte Area Transit System told them riders would be able to call or use an app on their smartphone.

“They’re able to summon the bus to their location, and it will drop them off to their destination. We believe that that is a more direct, convenient service,” White said.

Providing more on-demand, shorter rides is part of CATS’ strategic plan.

The path and mobility hubs are estimated to cost around $22 million, and the city hopes to land a federal RAISE grant to pay for it. It’s not clear how CATS, which is struggling with bus service, would pay for the ongoing costs to operate the on-demand service.

The path would go from just east of I-85 to Tryon Street. The city envisions mobility hubs at the Lynx light rail station, near Hidden Valley and Derita.

Low-income riders make up the majority of CATS bus riders. City officials say a robust transit system that connects people to jobs and other opportunities is a way to help improve economic mobility.


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Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.