|Why Does Charlotte Need a Rapid Transit System?|
Almost every city of Charlotte's size or larger has invested in some form of rapid transit. Rapid transit comes in several varieties. There is light rail, which we are now building, or busways, sometimes referred to as bus rapid transit. There is heavy rail, such as subways and elevated systems, which we see in our largest cities. There is also commuter rail, which commonly shares tracks with freight railroads. They all have one thing in common. They operate on private right-of-way, free from traffic congestion. The one exception to this is that in some cities light rail or busways may share city streets with the automobile over parts of its operation.
Transit critics often say all we really need is a good bus system. However
this is not really realistic, and will simply not work any longer in a
city of Charlotte's size because buses can only run as fast as the rest
of the traffic on the road over which they are operating. This therefore
provides little incentive for people to get out of their cars and ride
the bus. The main reason large cities have rapid transit is to give people
a clear choice over using their cars. If you don't provide that clear
choice not enough people will use it, and you have defeated the main purpose
of having these transit systems. It is not just for people that don't
have cars as some critics seem to think.