Friday, November 20, 2009

Less traffic downtown?

I'm working on non-blog matters today (I'm writing my regular Saturday oped column, this week about the Soul of the Community survey, and what people really want in order to feel loyalty to where they live. Read it Saturday at

So I'll just share this interesting info, which rolled into my e-mail inbox a few minutes ago. Weekday morning traffic in downtown Charlotte is down. It's from the city's Department of Transportation. In their words:

CDOT has released results of a traffic count study conducted in September 2009. The area examined was uptown Charlotte. Counts were collected during workdays from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m.

Analysis of the data indicates:

1. Counts of vehicles declined from 2006 to 2009 by over 6,000 cars (approximately 15%) to the volume last seen in 2005.
2. The average number of people in vehicles has remained fairly constant since 1997 at about 1.1.
3. While certainly the downturn in the economy has played a part in the change, the increased use of mass transit (CATS buses-local and Xpress and LYNX light rail) has contributed to less rush hour congestion as well.
4. Another contributing factor is the increase in uptown dwellers walking to work and school.
5. Many companies allow workers to telecommute.
6. Traffic counts were not conducted in 2007 and 2008 due to numerous large road construction projects in uptown.


Anonymous said...

The results of this survey would be lots more meaningful (not to mention informative) to readers if you specified the boundaries of exactly where downtown begins and ends.

Really...where does downtown begin and end?

consultant said...

Down economy = less traffic.

Other factors cited contribute to less auto traffic in the area. That's a good thing.

What's going to be interesting is when this time next year the reports show traffic is still down.

Anonymous said...

That's great. Does that mean CDOT will downgrade streets and allow them to be narrower and more pedestrian friendly? And will they also stop banning parking at meters during peak/event times? That would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget all the people who have been laid off.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect when people are getting laid off?

Anonymous said...

I sure hope no one paid money for this "survey" which only stated the obvious...

Ghoul said...

Traffic down 15%, isn't that the same as Mecklenburg's unemployment rate?

Anonymous said...

Hum . . . sounds like more "reaching" to justify the exorbitant cost of mass transit.

So, instead of 97%, we are now down to only 90% or so uptown workers who commute via driving?

Build roads, don't waste money on mass transit.

Anonymous said...

"Really...where does downtown begin and end?"

Downtown Charlotte is the original 4th wards, 277 neatly encloses downtown Charlotte. I always find it interesting when some people call the streetcar suburbs neighborhoods like Elizabeth and Dilworth downtown or even post world-war II suburban neighborhoods such as Cotswold as downtown.

Rick said...

Layoffs and telecommuting are by far the two biggest impacts here.

The big employers are pushing hard on telecommuting because of the massive cost savings.

As some other annecdotal examples...

The express bus I ride is way off of it's peak ridership of 2 summers ago which would indicate fewer overall people going downtown - not an increase in mass transit usage as Ms Newsom would like to imply. CATS recently reported a 12.7% drop in September year-over-year ridership as well. That falls right on the timeline of the financial meltdown.

Parking prices have dropped on some of the flat lots - even as fewer spots are appear to be available due to construction. For instance, the new UNCC building has taken a whole lot out of commission and the lot next to it has gone from $3/day to $2/day.

Finally, on a slightly different note, it appears that the Northern Towns are going to be sorely disappointed in getting TIGER funds for the Red Line. The Governor's office isn't going to fight for them. From the September MTC meeting...

"at September’s meeting,(MTC) members asked Budd
Berro, Director of the Governor’s Regional Office, to speak with the Governor’s office about
including the LYNX Red Line commuter rail as the state’s second priority if the I-85 Corridor Bridge Replacement project over the Yadkin River is not eligible through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. Mr. Muth asked Mr. Berro to report on developments since September’s meeting. Mr. Berro reported that the State is hopeful that the Yadkin River bridge replacement project will receive funding. There is a process to go through if the number one priority does not go through, and there are
concerns with the Federal DOT whether they would consider another project if the number
one priority does not go through. However, at this time, the State is focusing on the I-85
Yadkin River Bridge replacement, and is not considering an alternate choice to put forward."

consultant said...

"Hum . . . sounds like more "reaching" to justify the exorbitant cost of mass transit."

Mass transit costs a fraction of what roads cost. And if you think mass transit is expensive, turn over roads to private companies to operate.

consultant said...

What if what we are experiencing now becomes the norm for the forseeable future? An extended period of declining resources. What Jim Kunstler calls the Long Emergency.

It makes sense. All of our fundamentals are wrong-way too much govt., corporate and personal debt, key natural resources in decline (especially oil), a civic culture relentlessly attacked and demeaned by the right to the point that most "leaders" have little faith in our ability to do the people's business (the role of government).

Am I talking about the end of the world? No, no. Just a changing world. Which, surprise, surprise, has always happened. Only this change, which is currently underway, is going to be a ramping down instead of a ramping up in our collective fortunes.

Well, it's what Palin, Bush, Cheney, Blackwater (or whatever its new name is) and the rest of the evangelical, corporate terrorists crowd wants.

The end of the world simply means the end of a lifestyle; and that my friends is where we are right now.

Rick said...


Which is the problem...too much government or the government being relentlessly attacked from the right?

It would seem that those are mutually exclusive.

If we operated with the "correct" amount of government as the Framers intended in the Constitution - meaning limited government, then there wouldn't be a reason to attack it.

Though, that's way off topic I suppose.

Your Kunstler references are pretty accurate though, I expect. We could be entering into a new normal of decline. If I remember correctly, the urban areas aren't going to fare very well either - no matter how many trains they have. Correct?

As for who's to blame...your list forgot all those who believe they deserve an endless list of entitlements, those who believe they are owed a house with no job and bad credit, and yes, those who think government run healthcare is a good idea. (Had to throw that last one in there as the Senate just moved forward on growing government on a Saturday night.)

Anonymous said...

If the Constitution's framers had wanted "limited government", they would have stuck with the old Articles of Confederation.

Washington and others wanted a strong, central federal government. One of the first use of implied powers to increase the rle of federal government came during his administration when Alexander Hamilton founded the first national bank.

Anonymous said...

What would really shock me is if I read an article or blog on this website where the comments stayed on topic. Why does every comment thread on this entire website always get hijacked into a conservative vs. liberal, religious vs. secular, or Democrat vs. Repbulican fight?????

As for the TOPIC OF THE BLOG ENTRY, I agree that the loss of jobs is most likely the cause of lower traffic counts. Notice that the study says the average number of persons per vehicle hasn't changed from 1997 levels of 1.1, and then the statement is made that "While certainly the downturn in the economy has played a part in the change, the increased use of mass transit (CATS buses-local and Xpress and LYNX light rail) has contributed to less rush hour congestion as well." You cannot, based on what is listed here, conclude such a thing without more research. You have to know how many people are downtown - how many workers, and in some way capture amount of traffic in the bars/restaurants/etc. To simply say, "there are fewer cars, and the same number of people per car, which means that our transit is relieveing congestion... oh yeah, the down economy might play a role." WAY too simplistic and a sign to the reader that you had reached your conclusion long before you did any research.

Rick said...

So anon, if the Framers wanted all encompassing, totalitarian government shouldn't they have written it that way?

As for your comment on Articles if Confederation, the correct way to interpret that sequence of events is that the Articles of Confederation - with very, very, very limited central government - were written first. That implies that the desire for limited government was the original intent.

The fact that the Constitution granted a few more specific powers to the central government is in no way an endorsement of limitless implied expanded powers.

Then again, that has nothing to do with traffic downtown...