Centrally located on the East Coast, Charlotte is one of the largest transportation hubs in the United States – and it is little wonder. The Queen City is located within a 24-hour drive of over 50 percent of the U.S. population, and within 700 miles of 70% of the nation’s industrial base. Air, rail, and truck transportation combine to make the industry as a whole one of the largest employers in greater Charlotte, accounting for 137,000 jobs area-wide.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the 6th busiest airport in the United States, and the 23rd biggest airport in the world. The airport handles over 700 flights a day on average, with flights to and from more than 150 cities in the U.S., Asia, Europe, South and Central America, and the Middle East. Forty-four million passengers pass through the airport annually. The airport has five concourses, with construction on a sixth scheduled to begin in 2016. The airport also handles around 150,000 tons of cargo every year. The airport is the hub for American Airlines and is served by dozens of other large and smaller airlines including Delta, Lufthansa, Southwest, and United for passenger flights and DHL, FedEx, and UPS flights for cargo. The airport is also home to the Carolina Aviation Museum, and has one of the largest public viewing areas in the country, allowing visitors to watch planes take off from and land on two of its runways.
Two major highways – I-85 and I-77 – intersect just outside Charlotte’s Uptown section making the city a major player in the ground transportation industry; I-85 runs from Virginia to Alabama, while I-77 runs from South Carolina to Northwestern Ohio. Together, the two highways provide access to much of the nation’s industrial and manufacturing base, and trucking companies can reach almost all of main metropolitan areas east of the Mississippi in less than 24 hours. More than 700 trucking companies have hubs or locations in Charlotte, including nine of the top ten, and handle general freight, containers, liquid and dry bulk freight.
Three major rail lines have large terminals in Charlotte, making it a major city in the area of supply chain logistics and transportation. Norfolk Southern Railroad is one of the largest freight lines in the United States, while CSX transportation operates lines that run from Jacksonville Florida into Canada. Charlotte is served by three Amtrak routes – the Crescent, Carolinian, and Piedmont lines – which connect the city New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond, Atlanta, and New Orleans.
City Transportation and Port
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) provides public transportation – including bus and light rail transport – for the Charlotte metropolitan area. CATS averages over 80,000 riders most weekdays, and carries around 24 million riders every year, making it one of the largest mass transit systems on the East Coast. Charlotte is also home to an inland port – the Charlotte Inland Terminal – operated by the North Carolina Ports Authority. The terminal, linked to the Port of Wilmington via the CSX Railroad, sits on 16 acres, is a major freight loading and unloading facility, and has space for stacking over 390 containers.
Whether you are looking to transport your possessions, your business’s products, or yourself – or you are looking to start or continue a career in the transportation industry – Charlotte provides you with many options. Charlotte really is a city on the move!