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Cornelius News

The big shrink: CATS downsizing some buses on express runs to Charlotte

March 1. By Dave Vieser. The recent substitution of smaller buses on CATS express routes between Charlotte and Cornelius has some suburban bus passengers unhappy. To make matters worse, the change—which first seemed to be temporary—now appears to be permanent.

Express route 77X, which runs from Cornelius to center city Charlotte, had been using larger more modern motor coach buses for most runs, but during the last two weeks, smaller equipment was used on at least two occasions, leaving some passengers behind and others unhappy.


“There has been a recent trend by CATS to use smaller buses for this route” said CATS commuter Rig Lemmer, who works for a bank in uptown Charlotte and has been riding the 77x for well over a year. “On Wednesday morning Feb. 28, at 7:56—the busiest single bus trip on this route for the week—we had a regular city bus show up. This is the second week in a row in this particular slot we’ve had this happen. Not all the commuters were able to get into this smaller bus, causing delays to work schedules and inconvenience to employers.”

Aging out

CATS officials at first suggested that there might have been some equipment substitutions due to scheduled maintenance. However, a day later they explained that the larger, more comfortable 500 Series express buses have actually been decommissioned due to their age and mileage.

“The new norm for 77x will be some runs—not all but some—handled by the smaller buses,” said Bowen Wakefield from the CATS Quality Control division. “At other times passengers will ride on MCI Express Buses or electric-powered vehicles. But there is no question that the decommissioned buses were more spacious and comfortable with a larger capacity than the local buses.”

The bigger picture

The express routes, which many passengers board at the Cornelius Park and Ride facility on Sefton Park Road, have attracted new riders to CATS routes, but regular passengers are concerned that the substitution to smaller buses might eventually send commuters back onto I-77 with their own cars.

“This strategy seems contrary to promoting express buses as a reliable and safe commuter option, especially with regards to the bigger picture of easing congestion on the main commuter routes, offering a more environmentally friendly alternative, and promoting public transport as a viable option. The smaller buses are most certainly not a safe and appropriate choice for express commuter routes,” said Lemmer.