Cost conscious Libertarians unite
I'm a big fan of organizations that blatantly or covertly circumvent senseless regulations (such as hiring services on Craigslist). There are two new taxi-like services in Charlotte...Lyft and Uber, which seem to be successfully doing that.
Of course their costs are lower because they don't have to deal with the administrative costs that taxis do. They work on a rating system and low rated drivers and passengers are kicked out of the program. Lyft is mainly just picking up in Uptown, Plaza-Midwood, NoDa, SouthEnd, and Montford, but can drop off anywhere within 60 miles of the pickup. Lyft works by suggesting a donation and you can pay as much or as little as you'd like. The drivers never know who pays what since they just get an aggregated summary the following day.
The kicker is that although cabs are very anonymous, especially with cash, Lyft requires using an iPhone or Android phone, Facebook connect (and I know several of you out there aren't even on Facebook) and you must have a credit card on file before requesting rides. So, for privacy Lyft and Uber have huge strikes on their record, but for skirting government red tape they are cool.
According to NPR this morning Uber actually hired a lobbyist in NC and got something pushed through to prevent cities from regulating it. (Boo! if you need to use the government to protect your monopoly or prevent the government from realizing you are skirting their rules I'm not a big fan since I think the markets should work it out, not the government.)
If the Facebook connect aspect of Lyft and keeping your credit card on file haven't scared you away, you can get $10 Lyft credit. Download the app on your phone, enter all of your personally identifiable information, and hit the menu button and go to Payments and enter 6V3P22. Otherwise, next time you are uptown and see a car with a pink mustache know that it's doing its part to provide competition to the taxi industry.
- Budget Travel
Low cost land travel
This Tip should be posted on about 50 of the larger cities in the eastern half of the United States but I do not know an easy way to do that. I was driving home from a meeting last week when I saw an interstate bus parked in the drive-thru lane at a former fast food restaurant which has been closed for nearly a year now. My curiosity was whetted and after a bit of research, I became aware of two relatively new long distance bus companies which are offering unbelievably low cost travel between many cities in the Eastern half of America. From Orlando, Florida to Portland, Maine to Omaha, Nebraska and about 50 other cities in between, you can save a bundle by taking advantage of the recent boom of budget bus companies. These buses are a steal at as little as US$1. (These prices are not typical.) Considering most destinations are pedestrian-friendly (with good public transport and walkable centers), you can hop-scotch across the region without booking a flight or hiring a car. Better still, the ride’s comfortable, there’s free wi-fi, buses leave on time and there’s often plenty of room.
I have been told that there are several of the budget bus companies but the only ones which I have found so far are Megabus and Boltbus and I have not tried either of them yet but I probably will for a trip to Washington, DC this winter Megabus serves a much wider array of cities while BoltBus serves only eight cities: Washington, Greenbelt and Baltimore in Maryland, Philadelphia, Cherry Hill and Newark in New Jersey, New York City, and Boston. On BoltBus, four round trips earn the fifth one free.
Book early online to get serious discounts on already cheap routes from Megabus and BoltBus.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Charlotte Amtrak Station
Train service in the Piedmont Crescent has been expanding gradually, and Charlotte is now served by four trains to the North, two of which continue to New York, and one to the south (New Orleans via Atlanta). Other cities have reopened historic stations or built new ones, but Charlotte's unattractive station is a throwback to the worst days of American train travel. It is undersized, architecturally boring (to put it charitably), a bit grimy, and offers no food service other than vending machines. It is about a mile north of the center city on Tryon street, but walking is not a good option, as the neighborhood is deteriorated and the traffic, heavy. Taxis are, of course, available, and one can reach the bus transportation hub in the center city via fairly frequent bus service from a stop across the street; however, it evidently never occurred to the city or Amtrak that people who need to or like to ride the train might also need or prefer to take a bus into town. There is no information about bus service inside the station, and the bus stop has no concrete platform or shelter. One stands on the grass under a tree or in the hot sun. A city so proud of its image as an urban center can surely do better than this!
Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Charlotte has long been one of my favorite American airports. Though the city of Charlotte has never been my final destination or the starting point for a trip, I have had numerous layovers here over the years. I especially like the central terminal area with the large circular bar, the rocking chairs overlooking the flight line, the huge glass windows and often live music.
Charlotte is one of US Airways' main airports on the east coast.
Please make sure that you do not travel with Delta Airlines. I did recently and instead of sending my luggage to New York they sent it to Atlanta and two weeks later I still have nothing and no one in Delta with deal with it. They don't reply to faxes, emails or phones. Watch out - do not fly with them
- Business Travel
- Family Travel
Flights are expensive
Things might have changed.
But when I went to Charlotte, there were no discount flights.
It worked out cheaper to fly into Raleigh and rent a car.
Charlotte airport seems pretty busy - but pretty un-inspiring.
I-85, I-77, and I-485 have all been under construction in the past few years. I-485 is only halfway done, but when it is all the way complete, you'll be able to loop around Charlotte. A lot of roads run parallel to I-85 further north, so if you get stuck in road widening traffic here, it's easy to go another way.....
Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Charlotte Douglas International Airport is one of the hubs for U.S. Airways. Lufthansa, United, Delta, Air tran, American, ATA, and Continental all fly out of there. This airport can fairly be described as the launching point of all of acemj's excellent adventures, whether they be routine visits to his sister in Philadelphia or to some foreign trip.
Charlotte's Amtrak station is located just 2 miles north of uptown Charlotte. Built in 1968 as Southern railway consolidated its passenger and freight operations, the station was hard-pressed to accommodate the growth in passenger and freight traffic. A whole new station is in the works closer into town (near Ericsson Stadium). In the interim, Amtrak and NCDOT (North Carolina Department of Transportation) worked together to expand the waiting room, add a new ticket window and a new restroom. For my first southbound trip on Amtrak (when I was at university, I would take the train north to Washington or Alexandria to get back to university after a weekend here), I took the Carolinian from Richmond through Petersburg, Virginia; Rocky Mount, Wilson, Selma, Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury, and Kannapolis, North Carolina through to Charlotte. The Carolinian has an interesting feature. Volunteers from the North Carolina Department of transportation supplement the Amtrak staff by helping people- rather like railroad neighbours. They get on at Rocky Mount and stay for the duration of the trip. On the way down, I saw evidence of the December, 2002 ice storm where the pine trees were still bent double as of 21 March 2003. As we approached Raleigh, the conductor shouted, "Raleigh world!" I took that opportunity to snap the Raleigh skyline to supplement the intro to my pathetic Raleigh page. At that stop, a bunch of fourth graders, their teachers, and some chaperones boarded the train and converged on my car like I would a plate of egg rolls. The plans I had for a nap at least through the tri-cties area were gone with the wind.
Charlotte - CLT (9 mi NE) Take Billy Graham Parkway South to I-77. Follow I-77 North. Off I-77, take exit 10 (Trade Street). At stop light turn right onto Trade Street. Go 1 mile follow signs to airport*
- Family Travel
Dont know much about public transportation
Charlotte unlike most big cities is most interesting on its outskirts and is spread out over a very large area.
They have bus and trolley service it is called CATS, and I never used it because I lived in concord which had NO PT at all. I think most surrounding areas to charlotte have to drive because the have no system that ties in.
I know when I left they were building a tram type transportation call Light Rail I do not know what became of it or if it is still under construction.
It is very easy to get around by car in charlotte traffic was never to bad except on I 85 and 77 in the evening and early mornings.
The Amtrak station is located on North Tryon just north of Uptown Charlotte and is another option for those who are coming from out of town. We Americans don't use the trains as much as in Europe. The trains are not always as efficient and the routes are certainly not abundant, but the ride is usually comfortable and safe and slightly cheaper than renting a car. I took this photo at the Charlotte station while waiting for fellow VTer b1bob who visited me from Richmond in March of 2003. His train was delayed and the trip took about eight hours. I can drive the same distance in about four!
Charlotte-Douglas International Airport
Charlotte's airport is the biggest one in the Carolinas and is a major hub for US Airways. The airport code is CLT. It's the 17th busiest airport in the country and the 35th busiest in the world.
Inside the airport you'll find shops, restaurants and ATMs (cash machines) as well as some trademark rocking chairs and musical entertainment.
When you go downstairs to baggage claim, you'll see rental car agencies and if you step outside, there will be a cab waiting if you need one.
Public Transportation information:
1) Center City Circuit is free shuttle service for the Uptown area
(704) 375-0287 or (704) 332-2227 -
2) Charlotte Transit
901 North Davidson Street
Charlotte, NC -
(704) 336-3366 -
3) Charlotte Transportation Center
310 North Trade Street
(704) 336-3159 -
4) Greyhound Bus Lines
601 West Trade Street
Charlotte is a hub for US Airways and they fly to and from Charlotte more than any other airline. Hopefully, their recent financial woes won't spell disaster for the airline and they will be able to continue being a viable business.