dubone

Charlotte's Light Rail: Lynx Blue Line

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I caught the train with a friend of mine about 11:40 at the Archdale Station. We rode the train to CTC statio got off, and then rode the train back to Archdale. My friend had never been on a train before and he was really amused by the whole thing. He said he would definately ride it agian in the future! As we were walking back to his house (he lives about 2 blocks fmro the station) a strange car driving with no headlights began following us. After swerving around a car, this strange vehicle finally stopped. the driver rolled down his window and said "hey, you guys got any money?" My friend told me no and we kepted walking.....the car then drove down to the end of the block and proceeded to make a u-turn. I then began to panic and was getting ready to run. The car then drove up onto the sidewalk and made an attempt to run us over. The car blew one or two tires driving up and down over the curb, and then turned onto the next block. My friend calle dthe police on his cell phone and we never saw the car again. We didnt see the license plate or anything, we were too freaked out to pay attention. My friend said he will still ride the train regardless LOL.....but he will carry a knife for his walk home from now on.

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I know I am not from Charlotte and have not been a lot in that town, but every time I saw that light rail being under construction in downtown. And finally, years after, it is done : kudos to Charlotte! Being from Europe I've always had that feeling that public transports are not extremely well developed in the US (apart in some cities like San Fran), so I consider a light rail to be a very good step forward for a middle size city like Charlotte. Next time I will go to Charlotte I will try to have a ride on it! :rolleyes:

So, maybe that question was asked before, but I didn't really follow the development of the light rail : this is the south corridor. Any ideas when the North, East and West lines will be done (if there are planed)? :dontknow:

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....

So, maybe that question was asked before, but I didn't really follow the development of the light rail : this is the south corridor. Any ideas when the North, East and West lines will be done (if there are planed)? :dontknow:

This topic has the answers to your questions.

-----

It's great to see this train finally running. I am out of town so I missed opening day, but I am going to try and hitch a ride on it in the next few days. Thanks to everyone who took photos for us to see.

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After dinner, we wandered back to Stonewall to catch the train back home. It was packed to the gills and then we realized the Bobcats game had just let out. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood and people were making jokes about us being like NYC. Regardless, I do hope this is indicative of the type of support our new train is going to get in the future - it's exciting!

One more comment about our ride home. It's clear there are a few kinks remaining to be worked out. We were going SB but the train was still reading "To 7th Street" and the voice was not announcing stations. We all got a small chuckle out of that and then a woman on the train pointed out that there may be someone depending on knowing the stops so they know when to get off.

I will say the way they "turn the train around" is seamless and clever.

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Sad to see that the bike racks are exposed to the elements when there is a perfectly good parking garage right there. :angry: It is also a very high theft risk. Too bad they rejected my proposal for bike lockers like these:

tdm85_08.jpglfront1.jpg

http://www.bikelink.org/ is a really good example of one of these systems currently in operation.

I am not going to lock my bike to one of those things and leave it there for hours.

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there are a few kinks remaining to be worked out. We were going SB but the train was still reading "To 7th Street" and the voice was not announcing stations.

One train I boarded, there was an someone (the driver?) announcing the stops in english and spanish, telling people to stay away from the doors, etc. I suppose they have that option, or will perhaps be trained to do that instead of relying on the automated voice.

I noticed that when you are on a platform, a voice says "train approaching in 2 minutes" but you're not told from which direction. I'd like to see better use of the LED displays too. All they were being used for was to inform people that the trains would end at 12:30 AM.

Edited by MZT

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Charlotte Observer is reporting that the opening day Light Rail estimated run of 34,000 passenger trips in the first four hours. And 60,000 by the evening time. That is quite a lot considering the daily estimates will be around 9,000 on a weekday. I hope all of those people that experience the Light rail this weekend will continue to support it, and I hope we exceed the expected ridership numbers.

Edited by fulcrumsf

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So assuming that the crowds will eventually die down, are there stop bells like there are on buses? You know where you push the button to alert the driver that you want to get off at the next stop so they don't stop unnescesarily at stations where there is no one waiting and no one wants to get off? Would that screw up their timing if they don't stop at each station for the alloted 30 seconds?

That would throw off their timing. They will stop at every station every time.

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It's amazing to watch this unfold from a distance. It reminds me of the fanfare surrounding the Bobcats Arena kickoff with the Rolling Stones.

One thing I really enjoyed from the pics: long lines to get on a city bus. That is something that I have never seen before in Charlotte, and while I'm sure it was mostly a result of the overcrowding, I hope it's a sign of changes to come in Charlotte's anti-bus bias.

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Minor quibble. Those were the express busses, which were not in service and available for weekend use. They have upholstered, reclining seats with taller backs, that all face forward. These seats are more comfortable, and muffle sounds so the interior is a little quieter.

For all the people that boarded those yesterday, who have never been on a regular city bus (plastic seats with grab poles and some seats facing the aisle), they will have a slighly higher opinion of the bus service than is really merited.

Edited by MZT

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I rode last night at about 7:30pm. I bored at East/West Blvd station. I knew I was going to miss all of the morning events b/c I had to work, but was surprised to see how much chaos was taking place as late as it was. There were booths still set up and tons of employees and volunteers making the experience remarkable. I enjoyed my little LYNX Passport, and enjoyed how well done the stations were, although still had some minor work like trees to be planted and missing letters on the headers. When the first train arrived, it was remarkable being so close to it, like when a dream becomes a reality. When the doors opened, it was packed full, and had to squeeze into a standing spot, and this was after dinner time last night. Rode standing to about half way to 485 then finally got a seat from someone leaving. Stayed on to 485 then back up into the city. Riding the bridge over 277 was unbelievable, and the nights views of uptown were one of the best perspectives that I have ever seen. Unfortunatly b/c it was dark, I couldn't see much outside of uptown, added with the shaded glass, which will be great during the summer. I was surprised how quickly the trains picked up, how quiety they were, and the experience was far better than I could have imagined. The enviornment last night was monumentary for Charlotte. I saw every race and every age, all talking with each other, getting along and making the "big city trasitioning experience" the greatest. The Trade St. station was incredible, and 3rd St was extremely well done with its lighting at night. From uptown I went back East/West and ate dinner afterwards at East Blvd Grill. I look forward to using the line often and I think Charlotte is not just ready but extremely satisfied for what CATs has put together for our alternatives in transportation. Look forward to riding it in the day probally on Thursday for photos.

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I rode it around 5:30 on Saturday at the I-485 station and it was an experience to remember. The crowdedness of the train makes it feel like we were in NYC or some crowded transit system. The northbound train I got on had a little glitch I guess, it didn't announce the stations or anything and the LED display was stuck on Sharon West, the train on the way back to I-485 was fine.

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Riding the Lynx yesterday was a great experience for me. I took the southbound train at the CTC/Arena station sometime between 5-6pm; the wait was only about 30 minutes or so. My friend and I deboarded at the Tyvola station, and almost as soon as we did, the northbound train pulled up, and we rode back to the CTC/Arena station. Overall the ride was smooth; a bit crowded, but that was to be expected. It really did make Charlotte feel like more of a big city. Can't wait for the construction of the next line!

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I rode the entire length of the line tonight. I thought it was a good experience. Most of the problems from yesterday still seemed to be there- namely the software bugs that messed with the ITS devices. It was a little loud once you got south of Scaleybark Station where the train really picked up speed. It was cool to see Charlotte from that angle. It felt like a real city. The train was moderately full, some people had to stand. I really didn't expect that being on Sunday night and well after the pathetic Panther's game was over.

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Here's my rambling report from a real-live south-side (south of Ballantyne) resident who rode today to my real-live uptown job. I drove to the 485 station and got there about 6:45am. Lots of CATS people around, helping with the ticket machines, handing out schedules, and so forth. There were about 10 people on my train. 1 or 2 got on at most stops, and a couple stops had 8 or 10 get on. The driver messed up the next stop name (said the wrong stop) a couple times. The automated stop announcements ended after the first couple stops, and the LED read "Next Stop Tyvola" for the rest of the ride. A ticket-checker guy came around just before the Stonewall station. I heard a few passengers tell him that the ticket machines weren't working so the CATS people had just told them to get on. I was freezing on the train (I sat about 3 seats behind the driver), not just at the stops, but the whole way. But I'm usually cold, so I'll just say the heaters weren't blasting. Excitement at Tremont, where we had to slow to a crawl because some (westbound) car on Tremont had stopped *between* the crossing arm and the tracks. The arm was essentially sitting on his trunk. I was lost when I got off at 3rd street, but that's just me not knowing where I was. The ride was smooth, and the stops were quick. I saw one guy with a travel mug of coffee. Speaking of which, I'm still totally befuddled by the "no drinks" policy and the lack of credit/debit card kiosks. I've read all about them, and I still say both are totally stupid. As my wife says "Why are they discouraging people from riding?". That's about it. I don't mean this to sound negative -- I'm just reporting my ride (other than the editorial on the drinks and kiosks). Overall it was pretty cool.

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Will you make it your regular mode of commuting?

Edit. And I strongly agree that the "no drink" policy is ridiculous.

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CATS did say they would take the drink policy on an individual basis. ie soda bottles with screw tops would be fine. I wonder if that will apply to coffee mugs as well with a fixed lid. On the run coffee's with the plastic lid will spill much easier, the same with any type of can drink.

I'd like for them to change the policy to only drinks that can be turned upside down and not spill a drop are allowed. Many people take their mugs to the office and refill them there, I'd hate to see people being punished for that.

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Will you make it your regular mode of commuting?

Not at this time. There are, of course, several factors.

- I normally leave home at 6:15am and leave work at 3:30pm, so traffic time savings is not an issue. In fact, I timed my driving commute for 3 weeks in Nov, and I averaged 16 minutes inbound and 20 minutes outbound (between the 485 station and my parking deck). So using the train would cost me at least 10-15 minutes each way. Today it was 12 minutes from the time I got off 485 until the train started moving. In other words, in 4 minutes more (16 average minus the 12), I would've been uptown. This isn't necessarily a deal-breaker, but just for me and my schedule, traffic isn't a strong selling point. However, having said that, I can see using it on Fridays (when traffic is *always* bad on 77 south and 485 east in the afternoon), or on days I know I have to stay later than 3:30 for a meeting or whatever.

- I have relatively inexpensive (covered) parking at the Mint St. deck for $65/month, barely more than a block from my building, so no huge savings there (compared to people who may be 100, 150, or more?).

- Gas for my SUV vs. a train ticket is about a wash. There are obviously savings on wear and tear and lease mileage.

- I find myself "needing" to run (drive) the occasional errand at lunch or on my way home. Taking the train would not allow this. Or, if I really needed to, I would have to pay daily rates for parking, as I would have given up my spot.

- Other comments on traffic: Inbound in the morning, for me, the worst traffic spots are: Johnston trying to get on 485, and 485 from Johnston to 51. Once I'm to the 485 station, I'm almost uptown. And in the afternoon, I'm really interested to see how easy it will be to get from the 485 station to 485 eastbound. This whole area has historically been an overcrowded clusterdance. I can easily see beating my head against the steering wheel just trying to get on 485 after having ridden the train. Time will tell on this one.

These are, of course, things particular to *me*. They may or may not apply to others. As you can see from the weak reasons above, I'm pretty close to riding as-is. And as my kids get older and my schedule evolves, it'll be great to have it as an alternative to consider.

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They allow people to drink at all on the Lynx? DC Metro doesn't allow any eating or drinking, which is why it is one of the cleanest metros on the planet.

mod edit: long quote above deleted.

Edited by monsoon

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Report from my first morning commute on the LYNX today!:

Parking at 485 station was a breeze - just pulled in, rode up the ramp to the 2nd floor, and parked. Walking across to the platform, I noticed CATS workers telling people to walk down to use the other ticket dispenser, as the first one was out of order. I walked right up, got my ticket for $1.30.

I then took a seat on a train that was sitting waiting to leave, plenty of room - the train i was on held about maybe 30 people as we left the station. I was excited to see who would be on the train this morning. It was what I had hoped... From the obvious commuters with iPods on, to the guy in front of me in a tie reading the Wall Street Journal, to the woman next to me on the cell phone excitedly telling her mother that she was heading 'downtown' to get her prescription filled and how much easier the train was than the normal bus route with transfers. People did get on and off within the middle of the route - so i noticed not all are just using it to commute from Pineville to Uptown. By the time we got into South End, every seat on the train car was full.

The ride was smooth and relaxing. Very cool view of things from up on the elevated tracks - got to see some interesting (i.e. more run down) parts of Old Pineville Rd, the backs of strip malls along South Blvd., and even a couple bars/restaurants along the line that I never knew existed before. Closer in to South End, the redevelopment of the area is aparent due to the many cleared parcels and sites under construction. There are tons of stops between Scaleybark and uptown - seemed like the train never got going more than 15 mph or so in this area. I was impressed, though- it took the train 23 minutes from 485 station to 3rd Street station. The red and green canopies at 3rd St. Station were lit up this morning, and did look VERY cool in the early morning light/fog.

Still some minor construction going on at some of the stations. Overall, I had a GREAT experience... definitely works for my commute!

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I think if you question the no-drinking rule it is because you were not the reason it was made. Most average people are careful, finish their drink and carry it to the trash. But it doesn't take that many people bringing in uncovered drinks, are not careful not to spill it, and setting it down in the train with a little bit left. I know that I saw many people with covered coffee cups in the train on Saturday. A girl next to me dropped her cup on my shoe 4 times during the ride. Luckily it was empty empty, but it could have been mostly empty and both me and the train would have been sticky.

I'll just say that many people are just nasty in their litter and care for public spaces (the gum on the bench on the first day of operation is a perfect example). I have litter in my yard uptown fresh EVERY day, despite picking it up EVERY day. So think of it not as preventing you to drink, but preventing the slobs around you from drinking.

I think the train won't work for commutes for everyone, but it works for enough people so as to make a difference. Then, there are special events that it will really help for. I would hope there would be some people who break even that would go out of their way to ride the train for altruistic purposes, but I grant that most people will make it a purely economical endeavor.

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About the Drinks: I am against having drinks on for this reason:

I know most adults commuting are responsible enough to hold onto their coffee and not spill it on the seats or the floor. However: if you allow adult commuters to have drinks, you are allowing everyone else to have drinks. Now on my trip from 485 north, there was a group of 5 or 6 "rascals" that were banging on things and putting their mouths up against the glass windows. Imagine if you are in your business suit and one of these kids spills their McDonald's milkshake all over your $300.00 suit for your big meeting. That would give me a reason not to ride LYNX again, from that experience alone. I think CAT's is doing the right thing by taking things on an individual basis. Food leaves crumbs and drinks that can spill can completely destroy are brand new LRT. I'd say Spillproof cups should be allowed and the rule, the same that my work allows. "If it can ruin our customers paperwork, then get it out of the room".

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I walked from my apt in Dilworth to East/West yesterday to ride for the first time, I wanted to go to Reids. I had bad timing since the trains were packed for the Panthers game. I am still battling a persistent cold so I did not want to wait the 15 minutes for the next one. It was great to see the trains so busy. It gives the city a more urbane and cosmopolitan air. I am going to take it Uptown sometime this week in the afternoon when it's less crowded and I am less sick. I don't want to disease my fellow riders. I think there should be a contest to for a Lynx slogan or some type of branding idea. London has "Mind The Gap !" and they have created a vibe for their rail line. Hmm...." Leap on the Lynx you can bank on it!" or "Get on the right track, ride Lynx".

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^"Mind the Gap" comes from the constant automated warnings at many tube stations advising people to step over the, sometimes fairly large, gap that exists between the modern trains and very old transit stations. If you are not careful you can get a very nasty fall at some of them. It has become part of the culture there which is the reason, I would assume, for the association.

In comparison I would hate to see some made up jingle made up for the Lynx line. I can just imagine how painful that branding might be.

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