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Commissioners put bus plan into motion

A CATS express bus makes its way through Huntersville Tuesday. A similar system will be implemented in Lincoln County in June. Jenny Walling / LTN Photo

Lincoln County residents will now have an alternate way to get to and from Charlotte.
An express bus route from Denver to Charlotte was approved 4-1 at Monday night’s county commissioners meeting, with Commissioner Carrol Mitchem dissenting.
The service is expected to start June 7. There will four trips per day, two pick-ups in the morning and two at night.
It will start at the intersection of N.C. 16 and N.C. 73.
Many Denver residents spoke at the public hearing Monday night in support of the bus service.
“I am in favor of the service,” said Greg Coffey, president of the East Lincoln Betterment Association and a Denver resident. “I have talked to a lot of folks who would also use the service.”
Coffey said he commutes to Charlotte everyday and would gladly make the switch to ride the bus.
He made a suggestion that future public hearings dealing with issues that affect Denver be held in eastern Lincoln County.
“I think if it was held in the Denver area you would get a lot of good feedback,” he said.
Coffey said it was a struggle for him to get to a 6:30 p.m. meeting in Lincolnton, when leaving Charlotte at 5:30 p.m.
Peter Browne, a Denver resident, also spoke in support of the bus service.
“If I still worked in Charlotte, I would use it,” he said.
Everette Heglar, a Lincolnton resident who commutes to Charlotte, was not in favor of Lincoln County getting a bus route.
“I would not ride the bus because it would take me five hours to get to work,” he said. “In my car I can get there in an hour.”
In a later interview with Heglar, he said the main reason he did not support the service is because Lincoln County does not have enough roads.
“A mass transit system is not the answer,” he said. “The only place where this works is New York City.”
The bus service was approved with a maximum commitment of one year.
Commissioner Tom Anderson decided on the four-trip plan starting at N.C. 16 and N.C. 73 because the eastern end of the county seemed to have the most interest.
Anderson said the service could also be seen as an element of a regional transportation plan designed to deal with the recent announcement designating Lincoln as a non-attaining county regarding ozone levels. Efforts made by counties could prevent billions of dollars of transportation funds being taken away.
The service chosen is the lowest bid. It will cost a total $81,144. Lincoln County will cover half of the cost, and the Charlotte Area Transit System will cover the other half.
Although approved, some of the commissioners had some concerns.
“I am not against it but I wonder how we can see if it is going to be worthwhile,” said Commissioner Larry Craig.
Others were strongly opposed.
“I think we have a lot more things to worry about than a bus service in Lincoln County,” said Mitchem. “I have a real problem with that especially when a small amount of people benefit.”
by Amy Wadsworth

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