Charlotte City Councilman Ed Driggs cautioned the Charlotte Area Transit System about putting too much stock in survey data following a series of virtual public information sessions about the LYNX Silver Line project.
The survey was taken by 244 people through Oct. 12, according to senior project manager Andy Mock. Surveys were accepted through Oct. 14.
“Our takeaway is that station access is what everyone’s thinking about and travel time,” Mock told the council during an Oct. 12 update on the project. “We’re going to be looking at these priorities in
determining which alignment we propose to move forward with.”
Driggs said they should be careful extrapolating conclusions from the data to the entire population. He doesn’t think the survey size was big enough to represent the feelings of the community.
Driggs said while only a certain segment of the population will be prospective users of the LYNX Silver Line, the entire population will be prospective payers. He said they’re going to have to make the case for the rest of the community on how the project improves air quality, relieves congestion and stimulates economic development.
“This is something that needs buy-in from the entire community,” Driggs said. “I see us talking only to this rather limited self-selected group. I’m wondering what everyone else is going to say when they are asked the question.”
CATS CEO John Lewis said the concerns Driggs brought up are important, but it’s still early in the design of the corridor. Lewis said there will be multiple opportunities to solicit input from the community as CATS refines the corridor and brings back options to elected leaders before getting to a point where they ask the community for support of the end product.
Tariq Bokhari, who represents the SouthPark area on the council, said looking at the project from solely a transit standpoint may not necessarily be the right lens. He encouraged CATS to think of it more along the lines of economic development.
“When we’re getting to those impossible conversations about how is this going to be funded, it becomes a different problem statement to solve when we’re looking at it in relation to the economic impact and value that is being created,” he said.
CATS plans to have a third round of public meetings in mid-January to get feedback on a refined route. The project will be paid for through a combination of federal, state and local dollars.
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said many of the next steps CATS has to go through are required by the federal government.
“I would hope that we would continue to be out in the public as much as possible to talk about the vision for how do we move around the city,” Lyles said. “We know that these things are going to be choices that everyone will have to contribute to that lives in our county.”