CATS to launch on-demand transit pilot program

The plan is set in three stages.
The plan is split into three stages.
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 6:42 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Charlotte Area Transit System is getting ready to launch an on-demand service that would allow riders to call a ride to them in select Charlotte neighborhoods.

“Our goal is for this not to be a service reduction but a service expansion,” CATS planning director Jason Lawrence said.

But with CATS recently cutting bus lines and a driver shortage how will this service be viable?

Lawrence said the service will be offered through a mix of ride-share services and third-party contractors, but all rides will be requested through the CATS app. The goal is to ultimately keep the big 40-foot CATS busses on larger through fairs and build up the on-demand service for smaller suburban areas

Related: Charlotte’s broken buses: CATS mechanic says “I wouldn’t put my family on one of the buses.”

“This allows us to bring people with on-demand services to high-frequency service areas,” Lawrence said.

The plan is set in three stages. This year, the role out will allow for passengers in Camp North end or the University area to call a ride on demand and get service to a nearby Blue Line station.

“We’re going to start small before we move to full-scale implementation,” Lawrence said.

Next year, communities north of Charlotte will transition from shuttles to on-demand rides. Long-term, phase three will move their 60-minute routes to on-demand rides. During the first two phases, a ride will cost $2.20.

Meg Fencil is a transit user and director for Sustain Charlotte. She said while the program sounds smart, she’s interested to see how the new drivers will handle the variety of riders who use public transit.

“Older adults and people with physical and mental disabilities need to be treated respectfully and with dignity,” Fencil said.

The first two phases will be created using CATS existing budget, phase three cats will use a $750,000 grant they received from the transit administration.