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Charlotte's new light rail line's ridership exceeds forecast by 35%

Reported on 12/15/07. Less than two weeks after starting revenue service, Charlotte's new Lynx light rail transit (LRT) South line has exceeded its projected ridership target.

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) had originally forecast an average ridership of 9,100 weekday trips in the line's first year of operation. However, CATS said the average daily ridership in the first seven days of LRT service after the agency began charging fares was 12,300 (reported in the Charlotte Observer, 9 Dec. 2007). That figure is 35% over the forecast ridership level.

After a slow start, ridership began climbing. On the first day of revenue service (Monday, Nov. 26th) Lynx recorded 6,700 rider-trips. That climbed to just over 8,000 on Nov. 27th.

CATS chief executive Ron Tober told the Charlotte Observer that the high ridership for the first week was due to "more people than expected riding the train during off-peak times."

Another sign of ridership growth is the use of park & ride facilities. "Many park-and-ride lots still have few cars" note the Observer. "But at the line's southern end, at the Interstate 485/South Boulevard and Sharon Road West stations, the number of cars is increasing."

As the news article relates,

On the line's first day of paid service, the garage at the 1,120-space I-485/South Boulevard parking area had roughly 200 cars in it. That increased to about 450 cars by midweek, and Tober said he counted 600 cars at the garage early last week.

The parking deck appeared to be about 60 percent full Monday.

And, notes the paper, "Getting commuters out of their cars is a key goal for CATS. Not only are park-and-ride customers most likely new transit users, they usually take longer train trips - getting cars off the road and reducing pollution."

One problem that might have been constraining even greater public use of the new LRT service is "malfunctioning ticket kiosks" (ticket vending machines, commonly known as TVMs), which, says the Observer "are still bothering riders."

As a result, "Technicians from Atlanta-based ACS, the vendor, have been trying to correct glitches with the printers."

Despite such minor glitches public acceptance of the new rail service has generally been enthusiastic. A Nov 27th article in the Observer quoted the positive assessment of a number of new riders - even, in some cases, with longer trip times than by car!


Published Sunday, December 30, 2007 3:30 PM by Angie Adams NC/SC REALTOR® Broker

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