CATS customers should not have problems during DNC
by Staff Writer
Public transportation officials say Lake Norman residents won’t see any changes in bus routes once the Democratic National Convention rolls into Charlotte.
Olaf Kinard, the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) marketing and communications director, said the only bus routes that will be rerouted during the convention run along the Interstate 277 loop and Uptown streets closed because of the convention, Sept. 3-6.
“We expect about the same amount of riders that we see on a normal day of operation,” Kinard said. “We expect that some riders will decide to work from home during the convention and others, who might not normally ride the bus, will ride to Uptown to see what’s going on. It will probably even out.”
About 30,000 people travel each day by bus to Uptown Charlotte from locations throughout the county, according to the transit system.
“Riders trying to get to Charlotte from Lake Norman might reasonably experience some delays because of traffic, but that’s about it,” Kinard said.
Buses will carry customers headed for Uptown Charlotte to a temporary transit center at the corner of Third and South Mint streets on convention days. The U.S. Secret Service studied security in and around Time Warner Cable arena, where most convention events will be held, earlier this year. Secret Service officials determined it would be best to close the transit center, located directly across from the arena, during the convention for security purposes.
The temporary transit center will be located near a planned public exhibit about the daily life of a U.S. president at the corner of West Third and South Mint streets.
“It’s a good location for people who would want to go and see (the exhibit),” Kinard said.
The Charlotte City Council has filed a waiver request with the Federal Transit Administration to allow the DNC to charter a fleet of city buses for $189,000. Federal law requires the DNC to use private charter companies, but organizers claim they can’t find a supply of private wheelchair accessible buses large enough to accommodate convention-goers.
If granted, the move won’t affect the transit system riders because the buses are no longer used by the city.
Local taxi cab services, however, say they expect four days of chaos during the convention.
Raymond Gordner, owner of Mooresville-based Lake Norman Airport Taxi, said his company will prioritize transporting its regular customers back-and-forth to local airports over those only in town for the convention. Many of his customers book cabs in advance and are experienced business travelers, he said.
“The convention will come and go in three days, but our regular customers will be here well after the convention leaves,” he said.
He said hotels that don’t have established relationships with cab companies could make traveling difficult. Gordner’s company will try to have at least one cab stationed at the Hampton Inn hotels in Cornelius and Mooresville at all times.
Richard Broome, a spokesman with Hertz Rent-a-Car, said the company expects vehicle rentals to be booked throughout the convention. Residents left without vehicles due to accidents or breakdowns might be inconvenienced during the DNC.
“We do everything we can to supplement our regular fleet and have replacement cars ready to go,” he said. “However, there’s no way we can really plan for those unfortunate events during a big event like the convention.”
In the case of major events, such as a political convention or Super Bowl, Broome said the company often brings in cars from outlying locations to add to its fleet. He added that most of the customers the company will serve during these times are involved with the convention and have booked cars in advance.
“When we get major events, a lot of our typical vacation and business travel ties up to some degree,” he said. “Not as many regular travelers end up coming into the city because they know what to expect.”