Sunday, November 25, 2007

Charlotte Light Rail Open for Business

On Saturday Charlotte opened its first light rail line to huge fanfare. 60,000 people rode the train on Saturday, 34,000 of them in a 4 hour period. The local paper had this to say:

That puts our region in a select group of metropolitan areas by welcoming a critical new resource that expands local transportation options. It's a far-sighted step, one that positions this community for an increasingly urban future.
It's amazing that some cities get it, and people in other cities still don't.


j said...

I went out to ride it saturday morning. I was actualy there early enough to ride the first train with the mayor and Ron Tober etc...
All day saturday the trains were packed (more so than when ive ridden rush hour trains in DC and Atlanta). It was a wonderful experience to ride light rail in Charlotte- it was hard to believe that it is finally here.

CATS reported that the weekend's ridership was well over 100,000 however, I believe it was much higher because both Saturday's Estimate of 60,000 and Sunday's of 40,000 were only through 7pm.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

So how was the ride? Do you think it'll be a fast commute or trip for most people? I'd like to hear how many people took it to the Panthers game. It will be interesting to see what the park n rides are like for Sunday games and what the traffic around the stadium is like.

j said...

Even though the trains were packed- probably well over the 236 car capacity, it was a very comfertable ride. The trains are incredibly smooth and quiet and the seats are cushy and most have lots of leg room- there is some kind of cushion instead of just hard palstic. Some of the cars had issues with the pa system and the ticket machines are acting up. I think the drivers are still getting acclimated to the trains becasue there were several rough starts and stops and they missed a few platforms (which are barely large enough to accommodate a 2 car train). I also enjoyed the public art I think once the landscaping is put in the system will look even better.

I think LYNX is a very competitive alternative to drvivng- even on the weekened. During rush hour it can take an hour to drive on I77 or South Blvd (both parrallel the South Corridor) whereas LYNX takes just 25 minutes. I believe ridership is going to break the projected 9,100 in the next week or so. Tuesday's ridership was right under 8000, up from Monday's 6700.

CATS and LYNX estimated that the Panther's Game ridership was 20,000. I rode it Sunday about an hour before the game ended and all of the lots looked full and after the game ended the trains become just as crowded as Saturday's. Though LYNX avoided the long lines by running the trains every 3-5 minutes after the game let out. The traffic leaving the stadium is never incredibly bad (it usally takes 30- 45 minutes) but it was lighter when compared to normal- and several parking companies reported they lost money because of LYNX!

I am not sure if as many people will ride to the game next week since they will have to pay. But Paying to ride LYNX is still much cheaper than trying to park anywhere near the stadium.

I took a few videos which I am uploading to google tongiht and I also have some pictures which i can email.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Thanks for the update J. Sounds like things are going really well down there.