MONROE – Union County is pulling out of regional transit.
County commissioners voted April 17 to cancel support of the 74X Union County Express, a bus service designed to transfer commuters to and from Uptown Charlotte. The line has been in place since 2004, according to County Transportation Planner Bjorn Hansen.
“Ridership had been declining, pre-COVID,” Hansen said. “And during COVID, it declined a lot. It’s coming back but not very much. The world has changed and we don’t expect ridership to be back where it was before.”
Union County staff previously presented leaders with six potential strategies, including three recommendations. Those recommendation were as follows:
• Maintain Express Bus service only if the Union County line can be integrated with an Express Bus serving Matthews.
• Expand Union County Transportation’s hours of operation. This is an on-demand service not related to CATS. It does not operate on evenings or weekends. Trips are exclusive to Union County unless its medical-related.
• Study the potential of a microtransit service through grant funding.
Hansen said staff negotiations with CATS to integrate the Union County and Matthews routes went well, noting the move would have saved $50,000, reduced rider fare from $4.40 to $3 and added two stops in Matthews.
But Monroe was no longer interested in contributing funding to the project in fiscal year 2024, Hansen said. That was a dealbreaker, prompting County Manager Brian Matthews to recommend commissioners vote to cancel the bus service.
Before voting to cancel the service April 17, Commissioner Stony Rushing confirmed that Indian Trail or Monroe were not interested in helping fund the service and that Union County Transportation can assist residents with medical trips.
Hansen told commissioners that the 74X would likely continue through the fall, which is when CATS tends to make changes to its routes.
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