Prior to launching CONNECT Beyond, Centralina led a two-year community engagement process to understand our region’s greatest transportation challenges and opportunities. Centralina engaged elected officials, planners, medical and educational institutions, transportation agencies, economic developers, employers and workforce leaders, asking what mobility needs and transit-focused outcomes could support regional coordination and local interests. Through this process, Centralina gained meaningful insights from a diverse set of perspectives and range of communities. Our resulting understanding of mobility needs at the regional and individual community levels allowed us to move forward with a targeted transit visioning and implementation initiative.

As the two-year engagement process wrapped up, Centralina developed a request for qualifications and selected a consultant to help develop the Regional Transit Plan. The consultant began the 18-month regional transit study process in February 2020. To date, regional transit efforts have helped our region build consensus around the need for a more coordinated transit system. We are working with other transportation agencies and community leaders to develop a comprehensive approach to transit, leveraging our collective resources and expertise.


Regional Transit Engagement 2017-2019

As one of the fastest growing regions in the country, there is recognition that long-term transit planning efforts should be accelerated if we are to remain a leading, competitive region nationally and globally. Transportation choice emerged as a top growth priority of CONNECT Our Future; a three-year, 14-county, bi-state planning process. A component of transportation choice, communities of all sizes – urban to rural, were eager to talk about regional transit in relation to transportation, economic access and mobility, economic development and placemaking.

The Regional Transit Public Engagement Series is a continuation of the CONNECT Our Future dialogue. It is an opportunity to have a focused conversation about regional transit, well before any planning takes place. This is a chance for communities to express their aspirations, concerns, values, and interests around long-term transit. By thinking through regional transit topics now and soliciting feedback from residents, we’ll be able to harness the best the future has to offer, while still preserving all of the things that make our communities great.

Our intentions for the Regional Transit Public Engagement Series were to:

  • Begin a region-wide discussion on regional transit
  • Understand the perspective of transit from diverse communities and people
  • Understand the desire and support for a regional transit system in the seven-county area
  • Obtain information and data to guide the development of a regional transit work plan

Our Process

In 2017, Centralina held a series of forums to gather input from local government staff and elected officials, and private sector and institutional leaders, on regional transit needs, values, concerns and aspirations.  Engagement took place in the Metropolitan Transit Commission region of Mecklenburg, Iredell, Gaston, Lincoln, Cabarrus and Union County, NC, and portions of York and Lancaster County, SC. In addition, in late summer 2017, a public opinion survey was conducted to test general attitudes towards future transit. In the spring of 2018, we highlighted findings and consensus-based next steps during a regional transit summit. The Regional Transit Public Engagement Series will enhance the dialogue of community leaders and transit providers through increased understanding of the region’s desire for regional transit and key corridors and destinations.

Resources

North Carolina’s two largest and fastest-growing metropolitan areas are working together to manage growth and position themselves for continuing vitality….read more from Connecting the Dots in North Carolina’s Cities: How the Charlotte and Triangle Regions are Using Transit Planning to Create Prosperous and Resilient Futures.

Transportation options are important for all communities and transit in particular has a distinct role to play in providing access to jobs, healthcare, education and services…read more from Transit as a Women’s Issue: Why Planners Should Prioritize Women in Transit Planning, Design and Operation.


Phase III Engagement

Regional Transit Interest Group Meetings | November 2018

The regional transit interest group meetings were intended to bring like-minded people and groups together from different communities to discuss and give input on our regional transit future. These meetings were held so that anyone could attend regardless of location or geography. Click here to see the November meeting schedule.

Regional Transit County Meetings | October 2018

The purpose of this phase of engagement was to build a scope of work for the Regional Transit Plan that reflects the needs of each county and to gain input on core transit messaging developed from our previous discussions. The audience for the October meetings included local government staff, local, state, and federal elected officials and staff, economic development staff, representatives from the private sector, and other transit stakeholders. After the October meetings, a series of stakeholder-focused meetings were held in the region in early November to gain feedback from groups representing interests in the economy, place making, and health sectors. Click here to see the October meeting schedule.


Regional Transit Summit | May 17, 2018

Please reference the following links for content distributed and discussed during the Summit.

Table Handouts

Presentations

Videos


Phase II Engagement 

Phase II occurred during August – October 2017 and consisted of 10 county-level meetings in Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg (north and south) and Union counties, Rock Hill, South Carolina, and two make-up meetings held at the Centralina for anyone unable to make their county’s meeting. Invitees included local, state and federal elected officials and their staff, economic development and private sector stakeholders, leaders of institutions, other community stakeholders, county and municipal managers, planning directors, planners, transportation planners, transportation directors, Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and Rural Planning Organization (RPO) staff, Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC) members from CRTPO, GCLMPO, CRMPO, and RRRPO, Catawba Regional COG staff, CATS staff and Centralina staff.

The second phase of engagement helped establish clarity on background, context, and next steps for regional transit discussion and planning, including both challenges and opportunities. This stakeholder engagement was supplemented by a public survey designed to gauge public attitudes and values related to regional transit. The goals of the phase II engagement were to:

  • provide the audience with context for a broader regional transit discussion,
  • understand local benefits, concerns and sensitive issues related to expanded transit,
  • forecast RTES Phase II engagement process and roles, and
  • develop and strengthen relationships.

RTES Phase 2 Summary Report

RTES Phase 2 Summary Report Appendix


Phase I Engagement 

Phase I occurred during March – May 2017 and consisted of nine county‐level meetings in Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg (north and south) and Union counties, Rock Hill, South Carolina, and a make‐up meeting held at the Centralina COG for anyone unable to make their county’s meeting. Invitees included county and municipal managers, planning directors, planners, transportation planners, transportation directors, Metropolitan Planning Organization and Rural Planning Organization staff, Technical Coordinating Committee members from CRTPO, GCLMPO, CRMPO, and RRRPO, Catawba Regional COG staff, CATS staff and Centralina staff.

The purpose of the Phase I meetings was to provide a baseline of information on the region’s growth trends, the current state of transit planning, and to listen and gather input from local government staff and transit stakeholders from across the region. The meetings were designed to create dialogue and achieve clarity among regional stakeholders and to understand the transit related values, attitudes, concerns, and opportunities in each county.  Full Report and Appendix are available below.

RTES Phase 1 Summary Report

RTES Phase 1 Summary Report Appendix

Phase I Engagement Resources

The project team met with town & county managers, transit directors, transportation planners, and planning directors in the study area.  Workshops were held in March, April and May.  Below are resources from these workshops.

Regional Transit Engagement Series Agenda

Regional Transit Engagement FAQ

Regional Transit Engagement-Overview_Process_Map-March2017

Engagement Questions_Final

For more information on the Regional Transit Plan, please contact Jason Wager at (704) 348-2707 or jwager@centralina.org