Green Ways Of Getting Around In Charlotte
As Charlotte has evolved into an urban center, city dwellers have access to reliable, environmentally friendly alternative transportation options. As much of Charlotte is an extension of a suburb, bus systems, light rail, Amtrak, the greenway, bike lanes and ride-sharing systems offer alternative routes to get to and from destinations without needing an individual vehicle.
CATS (Charlotte Area Transit System)
CATS includes the bus system, LYNX and trolley service in Uptown Charlotte. The bus system offers the most connections in the Charlotte area with services in Charlotte, Matthews, Mint Hill, Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville. The bus system features about 100 different lines within the Charlotte area. It costs $2 for one ride with passes and discounts available for students and seniors. In addition, the historic trolley takes interested Charlotteans and tourists on a two-mile route in the South End district.
Lynx Rapid Transit Service
Developed in 2007, Charlotte’s Light Rail system carries over 15,000 passengers from Pineville to Uptown and the South End area on the Blue Line. Tickets are $2 one way with options available for frequent users. Ample, free parking is conveniently located adjacent to each train stop. Currently, the Blue Line is being extended to the University Area to better incorporate the community and student population at UNCC into Charlotte’s urban centers. Other public transportation projects have been planned to implement a streetcar system into the downtown areas. However, this process is still in the planning and negotiation stage.
The Little Sugar Creek Greenway
This greenway system connects Charlotte for biking, skating, walking, running and other recreational use. When completed, it will feature 185 miles for Mecklenburg County. With some planning, people are now using the greenway system to commute via alternative transportation to work. The recent additions to the greenway project have already been a huge success within the community. Many new developments are now centered around the greenway to create convenient neighborhoods and commerce areas.
Evolving to be a more bike-friendly town, many main roads and boulevards now have added bike lanes and road signs to accommodate for bikers. In addition, a ride-sharing program called Charlotte B Cycle has become quite popular in Charlotte. Interested users must become daily or annual members to pick up bikes located at 20 stations throughout Charlotte. Charlotte B Cycle promotes quick, commuter trips as a way to engage with the outdoors and embrace a healthy lifestyle. The first 30 minutes users ride free but are charged $4 every half hour after the first increment to promote high turnover and short trips.
Recently migrating to Charlotte, urban ride-sharing systems now offer Mecklenburg County another mode of transport. More and more pink mustaches have made their way into Charlotte, indicating a Lyft driver. Users can download the mobile app and a driver will pick them up at the specified location and time. Dependable like a taxi service, Lyft does not charge fares but rather accepts donations, which helps facilitate the social and fun atmosphere of the ride-sharing program. Competing with Lyft, Uber is another ride-sharing system activated via a mobile app but uses slightly more upscale vehicles to transport users around town. Ride-sharing systems are a great way to interact with friends and peers that mitigate the carbon impact of using individual vehicles.
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Isabel Sepkowitz is a freelance writer. She is an environmentalist who values sustainability, education, and innovation for the emerging green economy. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.