Mobility is the driving force that shapes our community. As our region continues to grow, mobility will be one of the most critical factors that ensure everyone has access to reliable, efficient and well-connected transportation. Our 12-county community is nearing three million residents and is expected to add over one million more by 2045. This growth will continue to bring new opportunities as jobs and businesses set up shop in our cities and towns. But with this growth, we expect to see additional strain and usage of our existing private and public transit and mobility services.
To plan for this future, Centralina Regional Council and the Metropolitan Transit Commission (the policy board for the Charlotte Area Transit System) set out to build a long-term mobility plan that will enable new transit connectivity. The resulting CONNECT Beyond plan is based on extensive community and stakeholder input and involvement. The CONNECT Beyond mobility plan defines a bold regional transit vision that provides real mobility solutions and opportunities for residents and visitors that serve as the foundation for our region’s continued economic competitiveness and quality of life.
A total mobility network is a way of looking at transit in a layered approach, taking into consideration all users of transit systems and the different modes of transportation they require daily – this includes bus rapid transit, vanpools, mobility hubs, ridesharing and bike-sharing options and more. It is important to keep in mind that mobility means different things to different people. To some, it means having access to basic human needs; to others, it means having options to improve their quality of life through education, employment and entertainment. However, one thing is constant: Mobility means connection—to our communities, to our counties, to each other and to our wants and needs.
The CONNECT Beyond plan recommendations focus on three core perspectives: the individual user, local, and regional. At the core of CONNECT Beyond is the user. From the individual user perspective, CONNECT Beyond focuses on equity and access by providing everyone more mobility access and opportunity and creating mobility-friendly places and connection points that get riders where they need to go. The local perspective means that creating more access to transit and mobility options results in a better quality of life. The regional perspective means promoting equitable transportation and removing obstacles to commuting, resulting in building better economic opportunities for everyone.
The work done through CONNECT Beyond helped develop over 150 recommendations. These recommendations fit into five Mobility Moves, the categories used as a blueprint for building a total mobility network. The moves are:
- Creating mobility-friendly spaces. This move includes strategies to support vibrant, pedestrian-friendly communities that have convenient access to public transit and prepares communities for future transit investment.
- Expanding mobility choices. This move addresses how to support how, when and where residents and visitors can travel, now and into the future.
- Strengthening rural to urban connections. Focused on the area’s geographically diverse community, the plan crafted strategies to improve mobility and transportation choices for those who choose to live and work in rural communities, allowing better integration between our towns and shortening the time to travel between them.
- Building a better bus network. This move means implementing strategies to integrate our existing bus systems and enhance coordination between transit service providers across our region, making it easier for riders to plan, pay for and complete their trips.
- Investing in strategic mobility corridors. This move allows our communities to identify and invest in corridors throughout the region where high-capacity transit lines, commuter rail and emerging mobility services could be extended or newly constructed.
CONNECT Beyond is a collective blueprint that connects people in our region in new and exciting ways. The plan means improving transportation choice and providing a variety of alternative mobility options to better connect our region. It means enhancing transit equity, improving accessibility and focusing on providing affordable options to everyone. It means increasing economic competitiveness and promoting sustainable regional growth, allowing the region to compete in a global economy through better transportation infrastructure that will attract businesses and jobs while designing transit-supportive development patterns.
Throughout 2022, Centralina and its regional partners will be working on continued stakeholder engagement, developing a Regional Transportation Demand Management program, creating transit education opportunities and seeking new revenues to implement near-term recommendations. Interested in learning more? Visit www.connect-beyond.com.