Can changes drive ridership for Charlotte transit?

(by Erik Spanberg, Charlotte Business Journal)

Bus ridership in Charlotte declined by 13.3% during the five-year period spanning fiscal 2012 through fiscal 2016. And, through the first seven months of fiscal 2017, the number of local bus riders dipped by 6.7% compared with the same period a year earlier...The main reason, or reasons, for the decline will be learned as part of the “Envision My Ride” campaign, which includes extensive transit rider surveys. To date, 1,000 surveys have been collected, with much more back and forth between CATS and its customers to come. By summer, CATS hopes to finish the framework of a revamped bus network.

Even hard-core transit backers acknowledge the need to make buses more reliable. Shannon Binns, executive director of advocacy group Sustain Charlotte, referred to Federal Transit Administration data showing local combined ridership fell by 8% in calendar year 2016 despite an influx of young professionals and apartments.

Fewer residents are riding transit now than in the depths of the Great Recession,” Binns said. “It’s no wonder — long commutes and multiple transfers are the norm. Buses carry 80% of transit riders, but on many routes, they come infrequently and lack connections to other transit modes.

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