Trying to get traction for expanding a passenger rail line

Hey all, 

I live in a growing and car centric city near Charlotte NC (Indian Trail to be exact) and have been putting together a proposal to send in to the local government for a passenger rail line from Charlotte to Monroe, if not further east.

NC seems to be a state on the right track for proper rail transit and Charlotte is definitely one of the better cities ive lived near when it comes to public transit. However, the service to commuters living east and west of Charlotte is next to none and I'm looking for some advice on going forward; IE where to look for information, how to get the community involved, and what steps I should be taking while trying to put my paper together





  • Comment author
    Charles Marohn

    For clarity, Michael -- what is the underlying problem you are trying to address? Why is passenger rail the solution to that struggle? How did you come to that conclusion?

    Passenger rail is delightful, but I've never seen it be the low hanging fruit. To the contrary, we tend to overlook the struggles going on right in front of us and all the work we can do there when we get sidetracked chasing big projects.

    Assuming that's not what's going on here, then start with the thing you are after -- passenger rail -- and work backwards in the things that need to happen to make this work out. When you get to something that you and a couple of committed people can do, focus on that.

  • Comment author
    Alan Ridley

    Hey Michael,

    Thanks for supporting passenger rail.  There is a wonderful organization called RailVolution based out of Minneapolis.   They have wonderful annual conferences filled with professional not only rail but all kinds of transit solutions.   They have a lot of resources and information as well as being a very fun group with which to be associated.  

    I will try to dig up their website where you can connect, but feel free to google it yourself and find them.    

    Good luck and keep up the good work!  

    Alan Ridley



  • Comment author
    Alan Ridley 


    There it is.   Have at it and good luck!   


  • Comment author
    France Widmann

               Hey Michael, I'm no professional; however, as someone on the opposite side of Charlotte to you as I live in a little area called Pleasant Gardens near Marion, (I'm technically closer to old fort but I digress), I have some insight on the situation. There are some options to get to Charlotte from your location that involve transit. Now I am much farther away, so I may have the area wrong, but, you should be able to go down to Union Towne Center and take the 74x up to the center of the city. 

               Now again I do live in a more rural area so I cannot attest to this public transport in the city, but I know in Asheville even if the public transport has its fair share of issues the bus isn't too shabby if I'm being honest. It's nowhere near the standards of European transit, but it can get the job done. I would like to say however that the wait for the bus can be quite bad. Sometimes a round trip to go around five miles can take around three and a half hours, which for someone needing to say get to work or a store before it closes really isn't the greatest, but it works, especially as a cheaper and more efficient alternative to cars, and due to the lack of general footpaths on the way in Asheville seems to be the easiest transit options. 

             I'm generally going to say that at this juncture in time even though rail may be a quicker trip in this exact case the easier, more available, and more flexible/workable option would likely be the line running through the Union Towne Center [( If you look at the bus route 74x here you may be able to find more information].

            Now I'm going to hedge and presume that you would like this not only just as a transportation alternative that you can use for your community but more as a point to expand transportation options and accessibility past the outskirts of Charlotte. The best advice I can give is to start from here, busses are (as far as I can tell) the best alternative to cars at the moment in your area and across this region, so I think embracing this for the time being and working and improving what we have would be nice. Of course having a rail system is wonderful, don't get me wrong, but first I personally feel that we should work with what we have and improve on the existing infrastructure. After all, taking large leaps into the darkness just increases the likelihood of falling and breaking our noses haha. 

           At this point I feel that maybe contacting the neighboring larger cities and seeing where their bus routes lie (most of these cities have the routes as public domain through their websites). After this you could likely formulate a plan to get these routes to intertwine and possibly get them to have a line crossing through multiple communities and branching from there. As broad of a goal as that sounds I feel it could in theory be feasible with enough work. 

            For my final bit of commentary I would like to state that there are small businesses like the Hickory Hop which can get people to their destination but generally wouldn't be a good idea for day to day trips. However, I would like to acknowledge them as a form of transportation. I hope this could help you in your goals and maybe advance the way you could go about this. Have a wonderful day and I wish that at one point in time you could give us an update about this. 



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