Hmmm…. Something is Missing
However one station that we think probably should have been included was left out. South Corridor light rail will stop at the local bus Uptown Transportation Center on east Trade Street and then proceed to its final station on the north end of the line, 9th street in Uptown. Between these two points is 7th Street, the closest point to several of our most important cultural and educational destinations in the Uptown area. These include the main branch of the Charlotte/Mecklenburg library, Discovery Place, Museum of the New South and Spirit Square.
We have heard that light rail stations need to be spaced apart wherever possible and we can appreciate that, but in the Uptown area lie many of the attractions most potential transit riders want to reach. Even though the proposed stations are more tightly packed in the Uptown area, it will require a three to four block walk to reach the above mentioned destinations from either the Uptown Transportation Center or the 9th Street station. The question in our mind is “Will the lack of a light rail station at 7th Street be too great an inconvenience for the handicapped or elderly?” Many of these people are the very ones most likely to depend on public transportation to get them to where they want to go and these cultural and educational facilities are at or near the top of that list.
The Charlotte Trolley might enter into this picture. It will likely be making stops in the Uptown and South End areas not covered by light rail. There will likely be a 7th Street stop on the Trolley and light rail passengers could transfer to the Trolley to complete their trip if they want to get off at 7th Street. However there seems to be a very big question about the Charlotte Trolley running full time, seven days a week. If it only runs part time or on weekends the transfer between light rail and the Trolley will be of little practical value.
Therefore, unless the Trolley runs full time, interspersed with light rail as in Portland, we favor the addition of a 7th Street station stop for the South Corridor light rail. This is not simply the addition of one more station. It is the addition of a light rail stop at the closest point to several of Charlotte’s most important destinations for transit riders. Other cities have also placed transit stops close together where necessary in their downtown areas, so this is not at all a groundbreaking idea. It is also important to remember that the addition of this stop will not add any extra time between Uptown and Pineville for the vast majority of commuters. Most of them will probably board their trains at the Downtown Transportation Center on Trade Street or at stops further down the South Corridor to the south. Some North Tryon office workers undoubtedly find an added 7th Street station very much to their liking.