Charlotte city council member is pushing for a fare-less public transportation system

Charlotte city councilman proposes fare-less Charlotte transportation

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - There is a chance that CATS and light rail services could become fare-less. One city leader proposed it at the council retreat this week.

Councilman Braxton Winston is the one who wants this to happen. He says after going to a state transportation summit in Raleigh, his wheels started spinning on how to help get people around town.

Old ways won’t open new doors according to Councilman Braxton Winston.

“Let’s not think of where we’ve been with transportation, but think as a city where we’re going,” said the councilman.

Charlotte’s much-discussed growth has led to light rail services across the city. In South End, it’s helping attract powerful, big businesses to Charlotte. It’s one of the reasons the CEO of Lowe’s said their company headquarters relocated here.

“This is great for the mom and pop shops. This is great for the cleaning services,” said Winston.

The councilman said he’s looking into the idea of a fare-less public transportation system because he wants to see everyone have a chance to ride. Right now, that’s not always possible according resident Darryl Boyd.

“You see what I got. It’s good on gas too,” Boyd jokingly says in reference to his bike.

Boyd says he uses his bike as a backup when he doesn’t have enough cash to buy a bus or train ticket. When his route is too far to pedal, he says he has – at least in the past – done what he had to do, even if that means breaking the law.

“So don’t get on that train if you haven’t paid your fare. I have to go to court now about that,” Boyd said.

It’s a misdemeanor charge, but it’s proof enough for him on why he likes the councilman’s idea.

“Give a brother a break. Give a sister a break. You know what I mean,” said Boyd.

Not everyone likes the idea though. Reaction Thursday night on Twitter was swift and direct:

"Here we go with the giveaways,” wrote another.

Winston’s response? He says fare-less doesn’t mean free – someone will pay for it. He’s just hoping your tax dollars can cover the cost along with potential investments from companies who want to take part in this type of development.

“Everything has to be on the table. Nothing gets done in this city or with government really without public/private partnerships,” said Winston.

As much as free CATS and light rail rides is a different idea for Charlotte, it’s not a foreign concept. City leaders in Kansas City just made public transportation free for everyone.

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