Democratic Convention organizers want to use city buses to transport delegates in September. They'd hoped to round up enough private charter buses to do the job, but that hasn't panned out.
More than 6,000 delegates will be staying in hotels all over the Charlotte region and they need some way to get back and forth to the convention Uptown. In March, the DNCC hired three companies to deliver over 250 charter buses for delegate transportation. But now it seems those buses don't have enough room for the wheelchair-bound delegates expected at the convention. So, the DNCC wants to supplement its fleet with public buses that can accommodate wheelchairs.
The Charlotte Area Transit System is willing - it even has some buses due for retirement that might work. But first it needs permission from the Federal Transit Administration to act as a charter bus company during the convention.
Tom Schexnayder was hoping his vans equipped with wheelchair lifts could shuttle convention delegates, too. He registered his company TMS Senior Transport on the DNC's vendor list, but hasn't gotten any of the business. He says, "It would be interesting to every business in this city that would have services available to the DNC, if the DNC would be a little bit more open about what they're looking for and communicate with the community at large."
There is a little money in the deal for the city of Charlotte. Transit staff estimate the DNC would pay about $189,000 to use city buses and drivers during the convention. The City Council will decide tonight if that's deal worth taking.