After Ramsey Creek Park Beach opened, neighbors were quickly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of traffic on their residential, normally quiet streets.
They quickly made formal complaints to the local government about the lack of parking and choosing to place the beach, which 8,000 people showed up to on opening day, at the end of a one-way road.
Between wrong turns, driveway turn-arounds and dead spots in grass from beachgoers parking on lawns to walk into the beach, citizens’ patience was endlessly tested.
The root of the problem, according to neighbors, is a too-small parking lot (fewer than 150 spaces) for the amount of people who want to enjoy the beach (16,000 on Memorial Day, for example).
In an effort to ease the frustrations that citizens are feeling, local government has partnered with the Charlotte Area Transit System to create a free shuttle system to run on weekends.
“The popularity of the beach has led to traffic issues in the neighborhoods around Ramsey Creek Park,” the city of Charlotte said in a statement released earlier this week. “Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation has requested the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) provide a fare-free shuttle service to help address resident concerns related to traffic and parking issues, for which CATS will be reimbursed 100% of the operating costs.”
The operating costs are just over $800 per shuttle per day, running at just under $1,700 per weekend.
Beginning this weekend, two express shuttles will run to and from a park and ride location on Northcross Road.
The location, just under four miles from the beach, will take beachgoers to and from the beach in 15-minute intervals.
What the local government is aiming to do with this new program is to eliminate “traffic issues in the neighborhoods” around the park, “reduce and hopefully eliminate” the need to park in the neighborhoods and give beachgoers “additional transportation options.”
The shuttle will run every 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday until Labor Day, including holidays.
Those who choose to park and ride will get into the beach for free, a move that officials hope will encourage the use of the service.
For now, it’s a pilot program, meaning that it’s essentially in testing mode until it can be presented to the city council July 25.
Officials said during the June 16 public forum that they aren’t seeing any reason that this plan won’t work.
In addition to the shuttle service, prices have also increased since the public forum.
Monday through Thursday, it’s $5 per vehicle for county residents and $10 per vehicle for non-county residents.
Friday through Sunday and on holidays, the price jumps to $10 per vehicle for county residents and $15 per vehicle for non-county residents.
The most notable change in price comes with walk-ins, which were free up until this week. As of now, individuals over 14 are $5 each, children aged 6 to 13 are $3 each and children under 6 get in for free.