Charlotte listed as ‘car-dependent’ city; ranks among worst places to be without a vehicle

The Queen City currently ranks as the 20th-worst city to live without a car.
City leaders have included major transportation improvements as part of their 2040 Plan.
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 5:59 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte is a town with a lot of positives, but at least one website says not so fast.

Money Inc. calls Charlotte one of the worst cities to live in if you don’t own a car, ranking the city at 20th in the nation.

Despite the less-than-ideal rating for folks looking to get around, city leaders are working to address those mobility issues.

If things go according to the 2040 Plan, getting around will be easier, even though Charlotte is currently labeled car-dependent.

“We have a very sprawling community that was really developed around the needs of people and cars,” Meg Fencil, the Director of Engagement and Impact for Sustain Charlotte, said.

The 2022 Charlotte State of Mobility shows 76% of people drive alone, nearly 10% carpool, just over 3% use public transportation, and 2% bike or walk.

“That is one of the reasons why there’s so much congestion and ultimately we cannot keep up with building roads and paving because there’s a real culps to this, the community,” Jean-Claude Thill, a professor of public policy at UNC Charlotte, said.

“The more sprawling we are, the more we have to spend time getting to and from those daily destinations whether that’s work, school, groceries, dinning, entertainment,” Fencil said.

Experts say Charlotte is improving, but more needs to be done.

“In the short term, we could really invest in our bus system now,” Fencil said. “If we could get all of the non-express bus routes running every 15 minutes or less, that could make a huge difference in connecting people to jobs and other opportunities at a fairly low cost.”

A second key aspect in improving transportation deals with the expansion of the city’s light-rail system.

“It is not enough to have just one line,” Thill said. “It is really important to continue to build an entire system that is going to provide those opportunities for people who live away from the half mile or one mile buffer around the stations.”

Thill also said that improving the transit system will take people off the roads and reduce congestion.

“This is a win-win situation to provide those mobility options for the population, including public transportation, even for people who choose to drive everywhere,” the professor said.

The goal of the 2040 Strategic Mobility Plan is to reduce people traveling alone on roads to 50 percent, with the other 50 percent using city transit, carpooling, biking or walking.

Experts say that in order to reach that goal, local, state and federal partners will need to collaborate due to the expensive nature of improving mass transportation.

Also Read: State lawmaker drafting law to address street stunts and takeovers in Charlotte