Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and CARTA Executive Director Lisa Maragnano both expressed their support for the creation of a multimodal transportation center at a public hearing at the Chattanooga Public Library on Wednesday morning. The project currently has a two-year projected timeline.
Philip Pugliese of the Regional Planning Agency said, "It's really about people. It's about people moving from place to place.
..We have a lot of people now in Chattanooga that are coming from a different experience with public transportation. They have different expectations. And at some level, there is an expectation that we will provide service to different areas of the city." He said he wanted public transportation to be accessible to people of all backgrounds.
He continued, "It's about putting all of those pieces together. And it's really about freedom of choice."
That freedom of choice is what Mayor Berke wants to provide through his Complete Streets policy. This policy would work to develop streets with more pedestrian and bicycle access. Mr. Pugliese said in a press release, "As the city considers adopting a Complete Streets policy to prioritize the needs of all road users, freedom of choice in transportation becomes increasingly important. Connecting walking, bicycling, ADA accessibility, transit and motor vehicle travel is the basis for complete streets planning."
CARTA has also worked toward this goal, adding bicycle racks to their buses and making their transportation more accessible to those with disabilities.
Over the upcoming months, the Multimodal Transportation Center Study, supported by federal funds through CARTA, will look at possible locations for transportation center facilities. The MTCS will study the current CARTA bus routes and develop ways to make public transportation in Chattanooga more efficient. It will also look for ways to expand public transportation to the areas surrounding the city, starting with Red Bank and East Ridge.
All of these efforts are part of the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, which the Regional Planning Agency describes as a "federally mandated plan to establish regional transportation priorities and performance framework for a 20 plus year horizon."
Some of the priorities in the plan include providing more transportation from low-income areas to job opportunities and providing seniors with more transportation to medical care.