A bus/bike only lane is coming to uptown with the aim of reducing travel times and operational costs for buses. At the most recent meeting of the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC), Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) staff made a presentation on the upcoming 4th St Bus/Bike Only Lane Pilot and the related Envision My Ride Bus Corridor Study.
Bus/Bike Only Lane Along 4th St Uptown
The Charlotte region is experiencing rapid growth. Congestion along major corridors continues to impact the performance of the bus system. Communities across the county have successfully implemented bus only lane pilots to address this issue. The goal of this pilot is to improve bus speeds, reduce commute times for passengers and reduce operating costs. Usage of the lane will be restricted to city buses, school buses, emergency vehicles, scooters, and bicycles. The lanes will reduce conflict between cars and buses/bikes, which will also provide safer cycling. The pilot is an affordable way to test the functionality of a bus/bike only lane.
CATS and Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) partnered to identify potential corridors to pilot this project. They examined various corridors based on a number of metrics, including bus ridership, bus frequency, traffic volumes and potential impacts, and the capacity of the roadway.
CATS and CDOT ultimately decided to develop the Bus/Bike Only Lane along 4th St from McDowell St. to the Charlotte Transportation Center. This stretch was selected due to its high bus frequency per hour, proximity to major destination and transfer hubs, the capacity of the roadway, and having a lower traffic volume. Over 20 bus routes will use this lane. Several current routes will be modified to take advantage of this lane. The pilot will begin on October 7th with an indefinite duration.
Floating Bus Stop Plans
CDOT plans to incorporate additional bike improvements along 4th St. This includes two floating bus stops. Floating bus stops are raised platforms that allow buses to pick up passengers without pulling out of traffic lanes. This allows transit vehicles to stay in their own lane without jumping in front of cyclists, which gives cyclists added protection from vehicular traffic at the bus stop. This does require cyclists to yield to pedestrians boarding the bus.
We're excited that the City is working to have this project ready to debut during Biketoberfest presented by The Charlotte Knights! The two floating bus stops will be located at 4th & Church and 4th & Tryon, with the Church St. location planned for an October implementation and the date for the Tryon location to be determined. They have the potential to become permanent if successful.
Bus Corridor Study
These pilot projects will tie into the upcoming Envision My Ride Bus Corridor Study with the goals of helping CATS develop speed and reliability recommendations for the proposed high frequency network and determining where additional bus priority treatments can be applied. The Bus Corridor Study will look at additional corridors for bus/bike only lanes and will also include an evaluation of other bus treatments such as queue jumpers and signal priority/preemption. The study will also include proposed bus stop amenity improvements, mobility hub locations, and recommendations to improve the customer experience.
CATS will work with a consultant to help define the study. Tasks include identifying corridors, conceptualizing designs, evaluation bus stop amenity programs and products, developing an implementation plan as well as a public and stakeholder engagement process. The tentative timeline put forth is for a Fall 2019 kickoff.