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Charlotte's Light Rail: Lynx Blue Line

3,113 posts in this topic

Posted

One thing I have been wondering about, are there any HRT/CR/LRT/BRT systems that allow you to purchase your tickets online. I can't help by think this would really help with the lines to buy tickets.

We purchased Metro SmartCards online before we went to D.C. back in August. It was pretty simple, and you can add to your card if you need to. This would be ideal for daily commuters on a transit system:

http://www.wmata.com/onlinestore/default.cfm?nocache

And our bus system in Grand Rapids allows you to buy passes online (for a small fee):

https://www.ridetherapid.org/purchase/?buyMonth=1

No messing with getting passes at the stations.

Great photos, and it's great to see such a diverse mix of riders too. :thumbsup:

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Posted

What do y'all think of this: CATS drops the Orange Gold Rush line completely (I believe that's the N--->S--->N route along Tryon St.). Shouldn't this stimulate higher ridership on Lynx? CATS could reallocate the Orange Gold Rush vehicles to another, new (or old (Blue)) route, rather than running parallel to Lynx by a block.

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Posted

What do y'all think of this: CATS drops the Orange Gold Rush line completely (I believe that's the N--->S--->N route along Tryon St.). Shouldn't this stimulate higher ridership on Lynx? CATS could reallocate the Orange Gold Rush vehicles to another, new (or old (Blue)) route, rather than running parallel to Lynx by a block.

I like that idea on the face of it. The fact that the Gold Rush is free, and paid for by Center City Partners or the Convention and Visitors Board, the idea might not be well received. The point of the line I believe is to make traveling around uptown easy (and cheap) to stimulate more business.

This might be one of those ideas for when the light rail system matures a little and people would be more willing to pay for something they used to get for free. But, I think this is a GREAT idea. We need more people thinking about these things. It also wouldn't hurt to suggest this to CATS and see what they think.

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Posted (edited)

I don't think it's such a good idea - yet. After College street develops more of a pedestrian/retail aspect it could make more sense. It almost there, but the real foot traffic is on Tryon.

Edited by MZT

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Posted

The Gold Rush is designed to be a circulator for trips within the business district. The Lynx would work terribly for quick trips within the business district because it is not worth the price or the wait. As a frequent rider of the Orange Gold Rush, I know for certain that the Lynx would not meet my needs for the times that I ride it. I think proof of this will be seen when you see how many continue to ride it now that the Lynx is running.

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Posted

I generally disagree with removing it because its just a circulator and it doesn't go as far north as the Gold Rush. However, once we have the NE line in place it would make sense to remove the Orange Line Gold Rush and replace it with a fare-free zone on the LRT within 277.

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Posted

No way would I support ever removing it. Considering the majority of the people who use it work on Tryon, and their likely destination is also on Tryon, it would equate into a minimum 4-block extra walk, which is likely how far they were going in the first place.

The only people likely to shift from the Orangle line to Lynx are those who live at Camden Grandview. They can reroute the southern terminus or extend it a little deeper into South End, but otherwise leave it alone.

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Posted

The Gold Rush is designed to be a circulator for trips within the business district. The Lynx would work terribly for quick trips within the business district because it is not worth the price or the wait. As a frequent rider of the Orange Gold Rush, I know for certain that the Lynx would not meet my needs for the times that I ride it. I think proof of this will be seen when you see how many continue to ride it now that the Lynx is running.

True, but I think a lot of Orange Line riders have eschewed Lynx in favor of the Gold Rush because Lynx costs $1.30/trip, as opposed to the free Gold Rush.

No way would I support ever removing it. Considering the majority of the people who use it work on Tryon, and their likely destination is also on Tryon, it would equate into a minimum 4-block extra walk, which is likely how far they were going in the first place.

The only people likely to shift from the Orangle line to Lynx are those who live at Camden Grandview. They can reroute the southern terminus or extend it a little deeper into South End, but otherwise leave it alone.

I think I began my reply before yours went up. Funny that you mention Grandview. We live there. I ride Lynx because it's faster than the Gold Rush and it's more comfortable (i.e. it's not 90 degrees). My wife rides the Gold Rush because it's free.

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Posted

I don't see any positives in removing free, easy public transit. The Gold Rush is one of uptown's finest assets and it would be a shame to see it removed in an attempt to force people onto the rail line. Reminds me of how the bus companies insisted on the streetcars being removed back in the early 19th century, and we see what a catastrophic move that was, both for rail and bus transit.

Having used the Orange Line quite a lot in the past, I cannot imagine that I would have ridden LYNX for the same purposes. If I want to get from Ri-Ra to the Green, the first thing I do is look down N. Tryon and see if there's a Gold Rush bus on the way. If there isn't, I either hoof it or get a cab (probably the former unless the weather is horrible). No way am I going to walk all the way to a rail station, then stand there for 15 minutes for a train that's going to roll very slowly for a few blocks, then get off and walk another block to my destination, and have to pay for the experience.

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Posted

Either I got really lucky today, or they've really ramped up ticket checks. I have had none since the LRT opened, but had one both going and coming today. The majority of people seem to be playing by the rules (like 90-95%), which is fine by me because it is entertaining seeing the 5% deliquents get kicked off.

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Posted

I don't see any positives in removing free, easy public transit. The Gold Rush is one of uptown's finest assets and it would be a shame to see it removed in an attempt to force people onto the rail line. Reminds me of how the bus companies insisted on the streetcars being removed back in the early 19th century, and we see what a catastrophic move that was, both for rail and bus transit.

Having used the Orange Line quite a lot in the past, I cannot imagine that I would have ridden LYNX for the same purposes. If I want to get from Ri-Ra to the Green, the first thing I do is look down N. Tryon and see if there's a Gold Rush bus on the way. If there isn't, I either hoof it or get a cab (probably the former unless the weather is horrible). No way am I going to walk all the way to a rail station, then stand there for 15 minutes for a train that's going to roll very slowly for a few blocks, then get off and walk another block to my destination, and have to pay for the experience.

Just out of curiosity then...what WOULD you do if they enacted this plan? (no more orange line Gold Rush)

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Posted

^ Just walk. Even going from the 7th St. terminal all the way to the Convention Center isn't a long enough distance to justify a train ride, especially if my destination is in 3rd Ward. But I make very regular use of the Gold Rush when I have the opportunity, because for Tryon St. traffic it makes more sense than the train.

Maybe if I were going all the way to Stonewall Station I'd take the train. But that's only because things get uncomfortable once you hit the construction zones. Once they're finished the need for a train ride there will be lessened.

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Posted

CATS is now reporting that during the first week of paid service they had an average daily ridership of just over 12,300....well over the FTA model projections of 9,100. In a memo from the City Manager there is also a blurb about the problems with the TVM's

We have experienced large crowds riding the light rail system to attend events at the Bobcats Arena and the Panthers Games. In addition, the high ridership this past Saturday resulted in long lines at the Ticket Vending Machines (TVM's). As a result, CATS staff implemented additional measures to sell tickets by hand directly to patrons at some stations and provide for crowd control at key events particularly at the I-485 and Uptown Stations. Staff is reviewing how those measures worked, including security considerations, and will make adjustments as needed. We are also considering introducing new fare products to address emerging ridership patterns and customer requests (i.e. a regular roundtrip ticket).

We have experienced reliability and capacity problems with the Ticket Vending Machines (TVM) which cause individual TVM outages at some stations along the Line. The capacity problems have involved transaction processing time and machines running out of money during high ridership periods. Except for one problem (printer malfunctions), all of the reliability issues experienced since opening had not manifested themselves in the initial testing CATS and the manufacturer had conducted last summer and this fall. The manufacturer, ACS in Atlanta, has 5 technicians on-site working to isolate and resolve these problems. ACS has started to see the TVM's stabilize this week and is scheduled to make additional software and hardware adjustments at mid-week. At times some riders have been provided a complimentary trip; however staff has conducted hand sales during peak travel movements at the heaviest stations to handle ridership volume and deal with any TVM outages. The TVM's are currently under the initial acceptance period in our contract with ACS which also includes a one year warranty period.

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Posted

CATS is now reporting that during the first week of paid service they had an average daily ridership of just over 12,300....well over the FTA model projections of 9,100.

wow!! If Bobcats Arena events are driving much of this, note that there are events 40 of the next 60 days at the arena, including multiple events some of the days (circus), as well as BoA stdium events (including December 29th when both venues have events). Hopefully they can get multiple machines installed at least at the CTC/Arena and I-485 stations. Special events will also drive up ridership estimates for the Northeast Corridor.

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Posted

CATS is now reporting that during the first week of paid service they had an average daily ridership of just over 12,300....well over the FTA model projections of 9,100. In a memo from the City Manager there is also a blurb about the problems with the TVM's

12,300 is great! Since that number is an average, it also means that the much lower ridership on Monday and the lower ridership on Tuesday bring that average down. I'd love to see some daily numbers for the end of the week and weekend.

I wonder if this will drop off because the "new" wears off or will increase as more people "find" the train?

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Posted

:thumbsup: 12,300 is great! That is well over the projected limits and should only help prove that we are deserving of Federal Funding for the future lines as long as we keep it up. There has been a lot of events between Bobcats Arena (Basketball ,Hockey, Concerts, College Basketball) and as said it appears there's a lot more coming up in the near and distant future. What I am most pleased with is the amounts of use for non-commuting purposes.

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Posted

That is great news. Obviously we'll need to keep that up but it is a very positive sign especially with much of the planned residential growth along the line still in the pipeline. I bet that we'll see some ridership improvements as they work out kinks with the machines and plan better for big events.

What is incredible is how many trains have pushed max capacity. Many of us, including me, were skeptical a req years ago that Charlotteans would squeeze into the trains like that. Apparently many not only do, but do it with little complaint.

The landslide vote was just the first sign that this city is ready for not only this line but the additionally planned lines. It is an exciting time to live in the city.

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Posted

I think that the riders on the Lynx Blue Line will be higher than CATS projected. I am looking forward to the rider counts for this line.

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Posted (edited)

The parking lots from Arrowwood on up are very lightly used right now, so people in town must just be walking to stations or connecting by bus. I have not looked at the final two parking lots, I think they may be getting more use because there are clearly more business attired suburbanites on the train than bus #12 ever had.

Edited by MZT

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Posted

The TVM's are currently under the initial acceptance period in our contract with ACS which also includes a one year warranty period.

Does this mean if the performance doesn't improve that CATS can return the machines for a full refund?

...

As for ridership, I must admit I was skeptical, and am pleasantly surprised at the current volume of riders. I didn't believe Lynx would hit its intial estimates until 2009, when a large share of the announced TOD projects came on line. Of course, almost all new LRT lines across the US have exceeded projections, so perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised. If those other lines can be used as a guide, it should reach 18,000/day in 5 years or so.

Again, CATS should really look deep into its pockets to find the money to extend the stations to take 3-train sets, and to purchase 8 additional vehicles, and they shouldn't even consider building the NE line withouth stations capable of handling 3-train sets.

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Posted

I suspect that one month or two months from now ridership will level off (somewhat.) To what degree I can't predict, but CATS should wait at least that long before making the push to expand the stations and run 3-car trains. To "dig deep" is to take sales tax revenue away from the streetcar, the NE line, the N line, etc., pushing them back further.

Standing-room-only trains on Light Rail are, in my opinion, a GOOD thing. It is only when the crowding gets to the point where almost every train carries a crush load that it becomes an issue. My opinion on the matter is, don't rush to pull money away from other projects to correct minor crowding, especially when we're not even sure that the crowding will last.

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Posted (edited)

Standing-room-only trains on Light Rail are, in my opinion, a GOOD thing.

If I had to stand every day on the train I might start driving to work again. I want a seat, and it was rare to have to stand on the bus.

Edited by MZT

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Posted

If I had to stand every day on the train I might start driving to work again. I want a seat, and it was rare to have to stand on the bus.

It depends where you get on. From 485, yeah, I'd very likely want a seat if I'm commuting every day. From New Bern, I have no problem standing up (which is a good thing - I've only sat down one time on the train so far, and that was at 730p on Sunday). Ultimately, standing or sitting, taking the train is still way less stressful than driving South Blvd or 77.

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Posted

I still can't believe how many people were so upset about the Arena and the Train. The Goodwill and Image alone is worth the cost. Attracting young college grads to the city is vital for economic growth. It may sound to ridiculous some , but these highly employable people want to move here because of the Downtown, Arena, and the Train.

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Posted

I tend to agree with orulz; unless the trains are so jammed that they are just uncomfortable, a crowd is a good thing. People feel safer and more confident boarding a full train than one that has sparse ridership. It keeps vandalism and other crime down, and projects the image that the trains are a well-liked public service.

Given that we have another conversation going about how to find enough money to prioritize future projects, I'd say keep the 2-car sets and spend the money on another line.

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