2018 // Transportation

Did You Know?

With headquarters in Chattanooga, U.S. Xpress is America’s largest privately owned truck carrier company and the 16th-largest overall in the U.S. Founded in 1986 with 48 trucks, the company now has a fleet of 7,000 tractors and 15,500 trailers.

Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport

(above) Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, by Sarah Smith/Maycreate

Since the Civil War, the city of Chattanooga has thrived as a major transit hub in the Southeast–due to its direct access to top rail systems, the Tennessee River, and overtime, three interstate highways.

With a commitment to sustainability, Chattanooga continues to promote eco-friendly transportation options while offering a wide range of travel services to businesses and residents.

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 centers.

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

Chattanooga welcomed its first rail line 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 transformed into a railroad hub. Since that time, rail transportation has continued to play a significant role in Chattanooga’s economy. Today, two corporations—CSX and Norfolk Southern—carry freight through Chattanooga daily to destinations throughout the U.S.

One of Chattanooga’s oldest transportation systems is the waterways of the Tennessee River; the 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. According to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which manages 16,000 miles of navigable waterways, 28,000 barges carry 45 to 50 million tons of goods up and down the Tennessee River annually. 

The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport offers daily departures to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, New York, and Washington D.C., as well as weekly departures to Orlando and Tampa Bay. In 2016, the airport broke its record for number of passenger boardings (419,059) and is on pace to surpass that number by the end of 2017.  Current airport amenities include the EPB Landing Pad, which provides free gigabit Wi-Fi, charging stations, iPads, an Xbox, and large screen HD TVs.

Serving the community for more than 40 years, the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) provides a cost-effective, efficient, and safe multimodal public transit system. CARTA operates 22 bus routes, including one of the largest fleets of electric buses in the nation.  CARTA also runs the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway and Care-a-van, a curbside service for the disabled.  With a worldwide reputation for innovation, CARTA has consulted with national and international governments interested in electric bus technology.

Bike Chattanooga is another low-cost, environmentally friendly transportation option. Offering hundreds of bikes available for rent, the bicycle transit system operates 38 stations open around the clock.  Bike lanes throughout downtown, along with the Tennessee Riverwalk’s 13 miles of paved trails, allow for recreation riding and easy commutes to work.

The surge in electric car ownership is one of Chattanooga’s green initiatives. The first electric car charging station was installed in Chattanooga in 2011, which has grown to the current 78 stations within a 30-mile radius of Chattanooga.  Thanks to a new car sharing system, Green Commuter, Chattanooga residents and visitors can rent electric vehicles by the hour or day.

Bike Chattanooga, businessman riding bike

(above) Bike Chattanooga, photo Courtesy of Bike Chattanooga

INTERSTATE For decades, interstate highways have paved the way for Chattanooga’s economic success. Chattanooga provides 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, Charlotte, Louisville, and Cincinnati are only a few hours’ drive away.

TRUCKING Because of Chattanooga’s strategic location and access to major interstates, trucking companies find the city to be an ideal home base. Several small carriers work in and around Chattanooga. In addition, two of the top trucking companies in the nation—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 Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport boasts large airport amenities with the care and convenience that only a small airport can provide. Offering direct flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, New York, Orlando, Tampa Bay, and Washington D.C., the airport operates flights through Allegiant, American Eagle, Delta, and United Airlines. Airport amenities include Wi-Fi, notary services, and a restaurant and bar. In addition to providing a 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 airline and freight handling services, including private air service for business travel, family vacations, and private parties. 

MEGABUS Megabus provides affordable city-to-city transportation. With a permanent stop on East 23rd Street, Megabus offers trips to Atlanta, Knoxville, Nashville, Chicago, and more. 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 22 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, 7-day, and 31-day unlimited ride passes are also available.  CARTA buses are equipped with free Wi-Fi.

BIKE CHATTANOOGA The Chattanooga Department of Transportation (CDOT) operates Bike Chattanooga. Over 300 bikes are ready to be picked up at 38 rental stations throughout downtown. This eco-friendly option is available through an annual membership, 3-day pass, 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 Seventy-eight electric vehicle charging stations are located within a 30-mile radius of Chattanooga, including the downtown area, Lookout Mountain, Hixson, East Ridge, East Brainerd, Ooltewah, and Cleveland.

GROOME TRANSPORTATION Groome Transportation provides reliable and affordable shuttle service to and from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and the 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 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 create an ideal location for logistics companies, helping Chattanooga gain national rankings as a top logistics hub. Major companies such as U.S. Xpress, Covenant Transport, Kenco Group, Schnellecke Logistics, UPS-owned Coyote, Tranco Logistics, and more have a home base in Chattanooga. One of Chattanooga’s newer logistics companies, Steam Logistics, was ranked #254 on a list of America’s fastest growing companies in 2017.  Dynamo, Chattanooga’s first logistics accelerator, was launched in 2016.

WATER TRANSPORTATION Chattanooga remains 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, Inc. move more than 2 million tons of cargo a year on the upper Tennessee River.