Occupy Charlotte returns to protest a CATS fare increase

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This was Occupy Charlotte back in October, during one of the groups earliest protests
  • Grant Baldwin
  • This was Occupy Charlotte back in October, during one of the group's earliest protests
Occupy Charlotte has been relatively quiet since authorities evicted the group from its three-month-long campsite at the Old City Hall grounds on East Trade Street in late January. But while local occupiers have virtually disappeared from the public eye, they've hardly given up their fight. At 6 a.m. Wednesday, occupiers will make a comeback of sorts, gathering at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center Plaza on East 4th Street, not far from the group's old campground, to demonstrate against a proposed transit fare increase.

The Charlotte Area Transit System will hold a public hearing on the increase at 5:30 p.m. in Room 267 of the Government Center's Metropolitan Transit Commission.

"CATS has proposed a 25 cent increase in local transit fare," Carolyn Flowers, CATS chief executive, said in a statement earlier this month. "This increase is needed to keep pace with the cost of providing transit service. Without a fare increase it will be difficult to maintain our current level of service for customers." The last fare increase came in July 2010.

Occupy Charlotte wants citizens to fight the increase, which will fall particularly heavy on the poor. The group has issued the following press release:

Members of Occupy Charlotte will be bringing attention to the Public Hearing on transit fare increases by Occupying Government Center Plaza on Wednesday, March 28th beginning at 6am.

Occupy Charlotte, which is part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, is a community group fighting for political and economic justice at the local, state, national, and international levels.

Public transit should be fully funded. But raising fares for riders is not the answer. CATS expects a 3% drop in ridership if fares are increased, which will lead to more traffic congestion and carbon emissions in Charlotte, a city which already has the 10th worst air quality in the United States. As part of our Occupation of Government Center Plaza, Occupy Charlotte members will host a discussion at 4:30pm to talk about alternatives to raising fares. We will also be encouraging community members to speak at the Public Hearing at 5:30pm.

Please join us anytime Wednesday, March 28th at Government Center Plaza (600 E. 4th St.)

For more information, please see our website: www.OccupyClt.net.

Those not inclined to protest can sign up to attend the hearing by calling 704-432-0872 or e-mailing mtcinterest@charlottenc.gov before 3:00 p.m. Wednesday.

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