Charlotte NC - The Charlotte Observer reports on the latest boondoggle by the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). This time it was restoring a vintage trolley car before checking on the implications of running it with the new LRT cars.
While a noble act and one that as a transit fan of history I truly appreciate, CATS literally blew $180,000 of tax money to restore Charlotte's last remaining true streetcar. Surprisingly, CATS even admits that they didn't bother to assess the risks before spending the money. In other words, they were in such a rush to spend taxpayer money that they didn't think. They only saw the positives through the rose colored glasses they wear when it comes to rail.
Plans were to run the venerable number 85 in service on the new LRT line. The Feds nixed that idea when they found out about it because the old streetcar could not stand up to a collision with the newer and heavier LRT cars.
Now number 85 will sit and be brought only on special occasions and that will be rarely as it will disrupt the LRT line operations. Basically CATS paid good money to make a static exhibit.
While $180,000 is chump change in the public transit industry these days, this story still shows the desire of transit systems to find new ways to spend taxpayer money on everything except providing service. It also shows the lack of planning and foresight of CATS and why there is currently a push to get the dedicated sales tax repealed.