CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte City Council approved a vote, 8-3, Monday night to move forward with Phase 3 of the streetcar project.
The vote was deferred during a meeting on May 31.
Despite being free, only 1,400 people a day on average are riding Charlotte’s streetcar. The line currently runs from Hawthorne Lane in Plaza Midwood to French Street in Biddleville.
City leaders have expressed disappointment in the rollout of the second phase of the streetcar, but they voted to spend $4.3 million on it.
Bad drivers and bad parkers often lead to delays for the beleaguered streetcar. Riders said during rush hour it can get really bad.
“I like the streetcar but sometimes there’s too much traffic,” rider Bao Moj said.
The city wants to extend streetcar service and create a 10-mile route stretching from Eastland to the Rosa Park Transit Center.
Councilman Larken Egleston said the project needs to keep moving forward.
“We’ve got to be ready,” he said. “These things have got to be turnkey when the opportunities present themselves for federal funding.”
But Egleston said he won’t vote in favor of expanding this line if the streetcar stays in traffic. He wants it to be more like light rail and operate in its own right of way. That idea is backed by Councilman Malcolm Graham.
“It needs its own dedicated right of way,” Graham said. “I think we’ve learning from our mistakes.”
“Right now, the streetcar is not really a more appealing option to folks than getting into a single passenger vehicle,” Egleston said.
The streetcar’s start has been rocky -- nearly every week there’s some sort of delay.
But some riders said they expected hiccups and the ride still beats walking. Ronnie Murphy would like to see it continue to grow.
“It’s good for everybody,” he said.
If a sales tax increase passes this year, which is very unlikely, the city predicts Phase 3 of the Gold Line will open in 2034, according to past projections.
CATS CEO John Lewis told the city’s transportation committee that he supports building the next phase of the streetcar in its own right of way. He also said they will study ways to ease the business impact during construction.
(WATCH BELOW: CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar route)
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