How to get around Chattanooga (Tennessee)

Chattanooga is well-known as a transportation hub. Glenn Miller and His Orchestra wrote “The Chattanooga Choo Choo”, a story about Chattanooga’s train station in the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade. __S.1__

The Choo Choo has been converted to a hotel, but Chattanooga still offers easy access due to its growing airport and its central location at the intersection of many state and federal highways.

Chattanooga was the home of an early auto club that worked to build one of America’s first interstates, the Dixie Highway. This route ran from Chicago to Miami. Although it’s easy to travel by car, Chattanooga’s environmental credentials are best supported by free electric shuttles connecting the city’s most popular tourist areas, and a steadily expanding bus network. We have all the information you need to help you navigate Chattanooga’s Scenic City.

Bicycles and cars pass Main Street in Chattanooga’s trendy Southside area, just past the Market South food court (c) Meghan O’Dea / Lonely Planet

By car

Chattanooga lies right on the Georgia border. It is two hours from Atlanta and Nashville, Knoxville, and Birmingham. The intersection of Interstates 75 and 24, 59, as well US Route 27, State Routes 153, and 319 (known locally under DuPont Parkway) are all found at Chattanooga.

Some of the main arteries through town have roots that predate Chattanooga’s founding. State Route 58, also known locally as Amnicola Hwy, cuts through what was once a complex made up of burial mounds by Indigenous tribes during the Mississippian period. Riverfront Parkway and parts of State Route 17 were located along the Trail of Tears, where the Cherokee were forced-marched to Oklahoma by the Indian Removal Act.

It’s easy and quick to reach most areas of the city thanks to the confluence of major highways, including outlying suburbs like Harrison, Hixson and Ooltewah. Traffic jams can occur at rush hour due to the Ridge Cut, a narrow neck where I-24 cuts through Missionary Ridge, which was blasted away in mid-1960s. Even if you drive on the surface roads, it takes about 10-15 minutes to travel between the city’s most central neighborhoods. There are a few narrow streets that run through the heart of the city, such as Frazier Avenue/ Manufacturers Road or Market Street. This is because traffic can get jammed up in these areas.

CARTA bus stops at Chattanooga’s Northshore. It is close to popular restaurants, bars, and shops in Riverview @ Meghan O’Dea/Lonely Planet

Public transit

The free electric shuttle runs from downtown Chattanooga to the North Shore neighborhood, across the Tennessee River. It then continues on to the central business district and the Southside and St. Elmo neighborhoods. If you want to ride the entire route, the Chattanooga Choo is your central hub. The service stops are well-marked and lightly covered. It runs every 10-15 minutes from 8:45 to 10:45 on weekdays, and from 9:30 to 10:45 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Chattanooga’s bus service serves mostly blue-collar commuters, rather than tourists. However, CARTA has attempted to lure downtown office workers with amenities such as on-board wi fi. Bus stops are not often sheltered and are marked with signs at every block on downtown routes and in the suburbs.

It is quick and easy to use the bus to travel around downtown and the MLK area near the University of Tennessee campus. You can also get into ex-trolley suburbs such as Highland Park or Orchard Knob. The bus is less reliable as it moves further into the metro area, including to Hamilton Place Mall in East Brainerd and Northgate Mall in Hixson.

The tail end of CARTA buses can be seen out of the window at Barley, a craft beer brewery tap room overlooking Route 4 bus stops (c) Meghan Olada / Lonely Planet

Route 4, which runs from Hamilton Place Mall, East Brainerd, down McCallie Avenue, through Highland Park, Orchard Knob and into downtown, near the Aquarium, is the most convenient bus line. The Mocs Express is also known as Route 14. It connects the university campus to Finley Stadium. Students can use the Mocs Express at no cost, but others will have to pay a regular bus fare. Route 28 connects downtown with attractions farther out, such as Tennessee River Park.

Online tools on the CARTA website and CARTA’s transit app allow you to plan your route or track the arrival time of the next bus at a specific stop. Adults pay $1.50, seniors 65+, students, and disabled riders. You will need cash to pay your exact fare unless you have a reusable transit pass like the 24 hour unlimited ride pass.

One of the Bike Chattanooga kiosks in Tatum Park, Highland Park (c/ Meghan O’Dea/Lonely Planet).

By bicycle

Chattanooga has worked hard to make its city more bike-friendly in recent years. They have built more bike lanes between major neighborhoods, and narrowed major thoroughfares such as MLK Boulevard/Bailey Avenue to increase space for cyclists. If you’re looking to combine public transit and pedal power, CARTA buses have bike racks at the front.

Bike Chattanooga is Chattanooga’s city-sponsored bike-share program. There are 41 stations located throughout the city’s core, to serve both locals and visitors. Access passes are available for $8 per 24 hour by credit card at any station kiosk. Free rides under an hour If you are careful about your budget, be aware of the deposit that will be charged to your card.

Chattanooga has many places where you can ride your bike to connect with multiple neighborhoods. The Riverwalk, 16 miles of bike-friendly paved greenway that runs alongside the Tennessee River and its surrounding wetlands, is a cyclist-friendly route. It features stunning views of the Tennessee River as well as a former St. Elmo foundry on one side and Chickamauga Dam at the other. You’ll see many dedicated road cyclists riding along the streets of the city, especially on semi-rural roads like Suck Creek Road. You can even learn more about where your bike should be taken while you’re here by visiting Suck Creek Cycle.

Taxi and rideshare

There are several taxi companies operating in Chattanooga, including Nooga Taxi and Millennium Taxi. However, they must be called by phone, which can be cumbersome and frustrating. Major ridesharing apps such as Lyft and Uber are more reliable than larger, sprawling cities. In fact, they’re often much cheaper than in bigger cities.

Walnut Street walking bridge, Chattanooga, TN
The Walnut Street Bridge can be walked or cycled only and is accessible to people with disabilities (c) Getty Images/iStockphoto

Chattanooga Transit Accessible

Chattanooga is as accessible as any other city with historic buildings that started prioritizing cars in the middle of the 20th century. It does have a variety of transit options that can be used by people with disabilities. CARTA buses are equipped with ramps and lifts to make it easy for people with disabilities to access the bus. There is also an announcement system that provides audio information such as route number and destination, which can be used by riders who are deafened or hard of hearing. CARTA’s electric shuttles, which are free for people with mobility aids, also have similar audio cues that can help people find their way.

Although many taxis in Chattanooga have minivans or similar accommodating vehicles, it can be frustrating to find a driver, especially if the vehicle is not accessible or you are on a time schedule. Although Lyft and Uber are more reliable options, many people with mobility impairments or visible disabilities have complained about the quality of their service. You may have different mileage.

Chattanooga is not for everyone. Main Street, Frazier Avenue and Market Street are all accessible for people with mobility issues.

Published on Tue, 20 July 2021 21:58.36 +0000

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