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Destination: Unknown: Lack of funds puts future of Charlotte transit in question
By Caitlin Coakley Four years ago, sales taxes were coming in, budgets were flush and healthy and it looked like Charlotte would have a well-developed transit system in all five corridors by 2030 or so. Then the recession hit, funding dried up and the rosy outlook of the 2030 Transit Corridor System Plan adopted by the Metropolitan Transit Commission in 2006 began to look a little too optimistic. “In 2006, life was good, sales tax was coming in at a good rate,” said John Muth, deputy director for development for Charlotte Area Transit System. “What was feasible in 2006 is not really feasible today.” Now, the future of transit in Charlotte is unclear. CATS relies on state, federal and local funds — including sales tax revenue and city and county funds — for capital and operating funds, the latter of which also comes from fares. The recession means that none of those sources have much money to spare, and CATS is facing a $350 million shortfall.