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Posted: 6:05 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013
By Linzi Sheldon
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Center City Partners and the City of Charlotte are spending $50,000 on a study to figure out the future of the Gold Rush Trolley. The trolley is about to lose two federal grants that expire this year. One is $325,000 each year for three years and the other is for $68,000 for only one year. The trolley also received $385,000 from private donors, like Center City Partners, this year, and funding from CATS. The free service runs down Trade Street from Presbyterian Hospital to Johnson C. Smith University and from the Hal Marshall Center down Tryon Street to just past the John Belk Freeway. It has limited service to the Charlotte School of Law. According to the Charlotte Area Transit System, riders took about 83,000 trips on the trolley last month. Renee Reeves said she rides the Gold Rush four times a week to get to class. "It's easy access, we don't have to pay and it saves us some money," she said. Michael Smith, president of Charlotte Center City Partners, said his agency and the city of Charlotte are splitting the cost of the study evenly. He said it will help them figure out what their options are. "Should we be offering more, should we be contracting? Have we gone through a cycle where the need for this circulator has come and gone?" he said. Not everyone thinks it's money well spent, especially people who don't ride the Gold Rush. "Craziness. It makes no sense to me," Andre McCullough said. But Smith said the study is the only way to properly plan the future of the Gold Rush. "This is the way you make good decisions," he said. "This is the best practice. You bring in people that are national thought leaders in specific areas."
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