Hats off to the Uptown paper of record’s Mary Newsom for blogging an unhappy mass transit experience despite her status as a confirmed mass transit booster. Charlotte absolutely must have that kind of brutal, uncomfortable honesty if it is to have any hope of escaping its Detroit-on-the-Catawba future.

Mary’s chief complaint is that CATS is not very user friendly:

So, CATS folks, if some eager bus rider wants to take Bus 14, how in thunder is EBR supposed to find it? The TV display is wrong. The lone directional sign (at Bay Q) is so vague as to be useless. Bay A itself is going incognito. EBR is somehow expected to intuit that’s where it used to be.

That just will not do. Mass transit has to be less stressful and less confusing than driving solo to be a viable transportation option, even if the time and money constraints work in its favor. (And they do not in Charlotte.)

As UNCC transportation maven David Hartgen has pointed out repeatedly, CATS just cannot attract “choice” riders like Mary and remains dependent on riders who have no choice but to put up with CATS’ shoddy service.

Given these facts, it is unbelievable that Uptown power brokers are moving to give CATS another dedicated revenue source in the form of a car rental tax.