Democratic National Convention organizers will use CATS buses during convention week to help transport delegates and guests with disabilities.
The City Council voted Monday night to use retired buses during that week for an estimated 150 to 200 delegates who use wheelchairs. Convention organizers would pay the city $189,000 for these buses, which are not in daily use.
Convention organizers already have 250 motorcoach buses for thousands of delegates and VIPs moving back and forth between their hotels and main venues. Thats through a $3 million transportation services contract between the Democratic National Convention Committee and three firms that bid as a team for the work.
Those firms are Birmingham, Ala.-based Vectour Group, Seattle-based Event Transportation Associates, and Charlotte Destination Group. That team came through with enough buses, which all have kneeling capabilities or wheelchair lifts, said Joanne Peters with the DNCC.
But motorcoaches typically seat two wheelchairs. CATS buses can take four wheelchairs without sacrificing seats, and are easier to board, Peters said.
Peters said city buses were used during the past five conventions for their space and accessibility, in addition to a fleet of private buses. She said organizers had this same plan for Charlotte so that delegations can travel, and began discussions with the city in February for CATS buses.
CATS still needs to get a waiver from the Federal Transportation Administration allowing a publicly-funded entity to work with a private organization. Staff writer Steve Harrison contributed.