2017 // Transportation

Did You Know?
Along with food, drinks, and free gigabit Wi-Fi, the Chattanooga airport streams a live video of the alligator exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium that travelers can watch to pass the time. A bookstore, called SkyLib, is also provided to waiting passengers. All proceeds from the bookstore support the Chattanooga Public Library. 

Adjacent to the Tennessee River, with major interstates and rail systems running through the heart of the city, Chattanooga has been a major transportation hub since the Civil War. Chattanooga offers a wide range of transportation options for businesses and residents, while continuing to advance eco-friendly transportation initiatives.

Sitting at the convergence of several major road arteries, including I-75, I-59, and I-24, Chattanooga is home to several of the nation’s top trucking companies, third-party logistics providers, and delivery and fulfillment services.

Among the top trucking companies are U.S. Xpress and Covenant Transport. Leading third-party logistics providers include UPS-owned Coyote Logistics, and FedEx and Amazon have distribution and fulfillment centers in the area.

Leading the way in green technology, U.S. Xpress is testing the first new electric semi-trucks. Chattanooga also boasts the first logistics accelerator program, Dynamo Accelerator, a 12-week program for companies solving logistics problems.

Rail came to Chattanooga in 1850, with the arrival of the Western and Atlantic Railroad. In 1858, the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad arrived in Chattanooga, and the city quickly became a railroad hub. Since that time, rail transportation has continued to be an important part of Chattanooga’s economy. Today, CSX and Norfolk Southern continue to carry freight through Chattanooga daily to destinations throughout the U.S. 

The Tennessee River carries barges filled with goods up to the Missouri and Ohio Rivers and down south to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to reach the Gulf of Mexico. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) administers 16,000 miles of navigable waterways. Goods are loaded and unloaded at Chattanooga’s two public terminals, Centre South Riverport/Industrial Park and the Port of Chattanooga.

The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport offers daily direct flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, New York, Orlando, Tampa Bay, and Washington D.C. In response to a steady increase in activity, the airport recently completed a $3.2 million community hangar with 28,000 square feet,  and West Star Aviation just opened a $22.5 million air maintenance facility to provide maintenance and repairs for private aircrafts.  Airport amenities include EPB’s Landing Pad, which offers free gigabit Wi-Fi, charging stations, iPads, Xbox, and large screen HD TVs.

The Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) has served the community for more than 40 years, providing a cost-effective, efficient, and safe multimodal public transit system. Carrying more than three million passengers annually, CARTA has one of the largest fleets of electric buses in the United States and was the first in the nation to have zero-emissions electric vehicles. With a worldwide reputation for innovation, CARTA has consulted with national and international governments interested in electronic bus technology.    

Another transportation option is Bike Chattanooga’s bicycle transit system, which offers 334 bikes at 37 stations  throughout the city. Bikes are available for rent around the clock every day of the year. The Tennessee Riverwalk’s 13 miles of greenway and downtown streets’ bike lanes allow for recreation riding and easy commutes to work.

Another green initiative Chattanooga offers is electric car charging stations. The first electric car charging station was installed in Chattanooga in 2011 and was one of the first publically accessible electric vehicle charging stations in the nation. There are currently more than 30 locations throughout Chattanooga and nearby areas. The next green initiative is an electric-vehicle ride share program that CARTA, TVA, and EPB are planning to introduce in the near future.   


transportation-carta; older woman biking downtown with bus in the background


INTERSTATE For decades, interstate highways have paved the way for Chattanooga’s economic success. Chattanooga provides close proximity and easy access to several cities throughout the South. With interstates 24 and 75 running through the city, Chattanooga is within 150 miles of Atlanta, Knoxville, Birmingham, and Nashville, and cities like Memphis and Charlotte are within a few hours’ drive.

TRUCKING Because of Chattanooga’s strategic location and access to several major interstates, trucking companies find it an ideal home base. Several small carriers work in and around Chattanooga. In addition, two of the top trucking companies in the U.S.—U.S. Xpress and Covenant Transport—call Chattanooga home. Both provide long-distance trucking, distributing raw materials and finished goods to other markets and manufacturers. 

CHATTANOOGA AIRPORT The remodeled Chattanooga Airport brings large airport amenities with the care and convenience only a small airport provides. Offering direct flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, New York, Orlando, Tampa Bay, and Washington D.C., the airport provides flights through Allegiant, American Airlines, American Eagle, Delta, and United Airlines. Airport amenities include Wi-Fi, notary services, and a restaurant and bar.  In addition to providing a convenient and hospitable atmosphere, the Chattanooga Airport has reduced its environmental footprint through sustainable practices. This has led to lighting improvements, LEED-certified facilities, and a solar farm to offset CO2 emission.

CUSTOM AIR TRANSPORTATION Fixed-base operator, Wilson Air Center, offers private air service for business travel, family vacations, and private parties.   

MEGABUS Megabus provides affordable city-to-city transportation. With a stop on east 23rd street, Megabus offers daily trips to Atlanta, Knoxville, and Nashville. The amenities offered include power outlets, restrooms, and free Wi-Fi.

BUS SERVICE The Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) provides public transportation in Chattanooga. CARTA has 16 fixed bus routes, a Care-a-van for the disabled, and a free downtown electric shuttle system, which offers one of the largest fleets of electric buses in the country. CARTA fares start at 75 cents per ride for senior citizens and students. 24-hour or 31-day unlimited ride passes are also available. CARTA buses are equipped with free Wi-Fi. 

BIKE CHATTANOOGA In addition to providing buses and shuttles, CARTA operates Bike Chattanooga, which offers hundreds of bicycles at more than 37 rental stations throughout downtown. This eco-friendly option is available through an annual membership, 3-day passes, or a 24-hour pass. Annual memberships can be purchased online for just $50. The 3-day and 24-hour passes can be purchased at the solar-powered Bike Chattanooga kiosks. 

ELECTRIC VEHICLES More than 30 electric vehicle charging stations are located around attractions downtown, on Lookout Mountain, and in Ooltewah, East Ridge, East Brainerd, and Cleveland.

GROOME TRANSPORTATION Groome Transportation provides reliable, affordable, and convenient shuttle services to passengers traveling to and from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and Nashville International Airport. Passengers can enjoy the convenience of 24-hour reservations, a free parking and waiting area, group rates, and pet transportation (with owner). 

RAILROAD Norfolk Southern and CSX Railways serve the area and connect Chattanooga to major cities in the Southeast and across the U.S. Norfolk Southern’s Crescent Corridor is a $2.5 billion rail infrastructure system that spans 11 states and provides direct routes from the Southeast to the Northeast with convenient connections to Mexico and Los Angeles. CSX operates and maintains nearly 1,600 miles of track across Tennessee. 

LOGISTICS  PROVIDERS Easy access and proximity to major U.S. cities creates an ideal location for logistics companies and helps Chattanooga gain national rankings as a top logistics hub. Major companies such as U.S. Xpress, Covenant Transport, Kenco, Schnellecke Logistics, Tranco Logistics, Lesco Logistics, Coyote (purchased in 2015 by UPS), and more have a home base in Chattanooga. Other logistics companies recently opened in Chattanooga include Citadel Logistics and Steam Logistics. The first logistics accelerator was launched in Chattanooga in 2016.

WATER TRANSPORTATION Chattanooga has become a bustling city thanks to its proximity to the Tennessee River. Connected to 14 inland rivers and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the Tennessee River is a primary means of transporting products around the country. Two public terminals in Chattanooga include Centre South Riverport/Industrial Park and the Port of Chattanooga. Companies such as Serodino move more than 2 million tons of cargo a year on the upper Tennessee River.