dubone

Charlotte's Light Rail: Lynx Blue Line

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Absolutely I have. I meant to post about it earlier. Not only did the taking of credit cards cut out a lot of the time, but then when it came time to print it out, it seemed like the tickets just dropped down immediately, with subsequent roundtrip ticket and receipts coming before I felt like I was waiting. That is a marked difference from earlier in the year, when it felt painfully slow.

I still have some annoyance with the design, but I am happy with the speed now.

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Agreed. A train was coming from 7th St. as I ran up the stairs at Arena Station, across the tracks to the outbound side, purchased a ticket and was on the platform before the train even made it under the canopy. 30 seconds...tops.

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Keep in mind that it works fast only with credit cards. Cash purchases are still slow. I used it this weekend at the Taste of Charlotte. My girlfriend and I got on at Bland. The announcement came on as we were walking toward the station "train arriving in 1 minute." So I bolted to the ticket machine and purchased both our tickets, with my credit card, in just enough time before the train departed. I think it is a push to get everyone to use cards instead of cash, personally.

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That is one disadvantage to the voluntary ticket system. With punched fares (as on the bus) you could buy a "10 ticket ride" and use them as you need them. The Lynx setup forces you to choose between monthly pass or ticket-per-trip.

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I didn't see this Observer article linked:

http://www.charlotte.com/breaking_news/story/656506.html

It says that the 485 parking lot is routinely full, as is the Sharon Road West lot, and the only immediate solution CATS has is to send people up to Arrowood.

As somebody who wants to see LYNX succeed to the higest degree possible, I find this sad and frustrating.

The article says there are options available, such as using adjacent land owned by CATS, or leasing space from businesses, but those aren't being done. Are they just *trying* make people hate it and have something to complain about? Does this really make good business sense?

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I don't think you read the article correctly. The article says that CATS is looking into adding more parking at 485.

Edited by uptownliving

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"might be converting" and "looking into leasing" aren't very encouraging, nor very aggressive. They should be doing those things NOW. Leasing space from businesses or using the adjoining space shouldn't really take long to get in place. Unless there's no urgency, which apparently there isn't. To them.

Heck, the paragraph after your quote says:

"

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It always seems to be missed everytime the paper writes an article about the 485 station but it is served by bus routes from the Carowinds Park and Ride, Carolina Place Park and Ride and Ballantyne. There is no increased cost in using the buses or park and ride lots. I wonder how many people have started using these options since the lots are full at 485 and Sharon Rd West?

Oh my, I didn't know those things were an option, I'm sure many others don't either. Why didn't the CATS guy get that information out in the article? Why didn't *he* suggest it, instead of just saying "right now, that's about it". Why aren't they sending fliers about *that* instead of about the other park & rides? Ack, more frustration!

Edit: How do you get from Ballantyne to the 485 station? I've never ridden the bus and apparently I don't know how to read bus route maps, 'cause I'm not seeing anything unless it's pretty convoluted. Thanks!

Re-edit: Okay, I see now that Ballantyne goes to Sharon Road West, not to 485. Still a good option I would think.

Edited by grodney

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You guys are arguing over the semantics used by the Charlotte Observer which isn't exactly known for accurate, relevant or issue based reporting. I think the bottom line is the issues are being caused by the line being operated as a commuter rail system which it was not designed to do. The reason that CATS is not undergoing a capital program to increase commuter capacity is because there is no money alloted for the purpose. Either the Charlotte city council will have to agree fund expanding the parking lot, or the MTC will have to agree to divert transit tax money for this purpose which will reduce money available for future projects.

I think the good news her is there is a lot of interest in commuter rail transit in the area, and I think these results should be used to go ahead and start the construction of the North CR line.

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... I think the bottom line is the issues are being caused by the line being operated as a commuter rail system which it was not designed to do...

I think the good news her is there is a lot of interest in commuter rail transit in the area, and I think these results should be used to go ahead and start the construction of the North CR line.

I gotta ask, how would a commuter rail line avoid the same exact parking problems?

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I gotta ask, how would a commuter rail line avoid the same exact parking problems?

By their nature, they have large park and ride lots designed for the traffic. The trains also have fewer stops and run faster and hold more people.

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If there is ever a Commuter rail line built from Rock Hill, where do you think it would be built, and how would it effect the Lynx Blue Line?

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I think the bottom line is the issues are being caused by the line being operated as a commuter rail system which it was not designed to do.

There are certainly a lot of people who ride the LYNX the entire length of the line, but CATS isn't operating the Blue line as a commuter rail system. All the trains stop at every stop. I'm not sure what you are trying to say here. Are you saying that CATS should slow the trains down and put more stops on the Blue line?

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If there is ever a Commuter rail line built from Rock Hill, where do you think it would be built, and how would it effect the Lynx Blue Line?
There was a proposal to use a set of freight tracks to run a CR line from Rock Hill to downtown Charlotte. It would not have had any connections to the Lynx blue line. Presumably it would have terminated at the proposed Gateway station and might have shared facilities with the North CR line to Mooresville. I believe this proposal has died in favor of some kind of bus rapid transit.

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See, if they're taking the time to improve signs and send out fliers, I think that truly addressing the problem isn't really a priority.

Well you can always let your City Council or Mayor Pat know that you don't think that CATS is acting fast enough. But keep in mind that its not like CATS is going to be able to make one phone call and make this happen instanteously. Leasing additional parking spaces from the adjoining businesses means they have to negotiate on price...which CATS will negotiate till they can get the lowest price possible (which takes time). Even then they may decide that the leaseing of spaces is not worth it.

The new parking lot would take at least a year to do because they will have to do some serious earth removal and grading. All of this assumes they can find the money to do all of this, get the proper approvals from City Council and MTC, and the weather cooperates for construction. Again this is going to take some time to do.

If I lived down that way I would seriously take a look at the buses that serve the station. Then you dont have to worry about parking at 485 anymore.

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There are certainly a lot of people who ride the LYNX the entire length of the line, but CATS isn't operating the Blue line as a commuter rail system. All the trains stop at every stop. I'm not sure what you are trying to say here. Are you saying that CATS should slow the trains down and put more stops on the Blue line?

I don't think CATS is necessarily operating the blue line as a CR, but I would agree that the majority of people who are using the rail are doing so for commuting purposes from 485.

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Let's not forget, amidst all this talk of CATS not reacting fast enough to respond to overcrowding at their parking decks, only a matter of months ago, a lot of people were worried that the sales tax--CATS primary funding stream--could be repealed and the Lynx might be a failure. Now gas prices and demand are much higher than anticipated, and people are saying they want more of everything. I think we need to cut them a little slack here, while they try to figure out how to deal with the crunch. They did respond quite well to the TVMs issues.

This is a station area parking problem, and not a commuter rail vs LRT rail function issue. The deck could have easily been built to accomodate more parking, but CATS didn't anticipate the big crowds.

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I agree completely ChiefJoJo. It wasn't long ago that many felt that CATS was going to roll out a dud with rail in Charlotte so we should be more patient as CATS works on issues relating to high demand (which was questionable by everyone, even supporters mind you).

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CATS May ridership figures were released today. LYNX average weekday ridership is at 16,239 and Saturday is at 14,176. Overall system ridership is up 16.1% from this time last year (does not include LYNX). Here are the last few months ridership for LYNX (avg weekday ridership)

Jan: 11,930 (Sat = 8,157)

Feb: 14,246

Mar: 14,807

Apr: 12,689

May: 16,239 (Sat = 14,176) WOW

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Very nice. I'm sure Saturday ridership was helped out by Speed Street, but that's incredible weekday ridership. Even today I was thinking about how packed my usual train (8:13 at New Bern. Yeah baby.) has gotten over the past few weeks. I don't think we've hit the plateau yet.

On a slightly different note, now that they've increased weekend coverage, I hope they do the same for weekday evenings. They could easily handle 10 minute leads as late as 7:30 in my humble, anecdotal opinion.

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CATS May ridership figures were released today. LYNX average weekday ridership is at 16,239 and Saturday is at 14,176. Overall system ridership is up 16.1% from this time last year (does not include LYNX). Here are the last few months ridership for LYNX (avg weekday ridership)

Jan: 11,930 (Sat = 8,157)

Feb: 14,246

Mar: 14,807

Apr: 12,689

May: 16,239 (Sat = 14,176) WOW

Do we think we can hit that magical 18,100 (or whatever the projected 2025 ridership is) this year? It's funny because Keith Parker said he thinks we can meet the 2025 projection within the early part of the next decarde. I think Speed Street did played a role, but it was also during the month of May when gas prices started to inch towards $4.

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If CATS were a free service I would be concerned about the event riders, but since they are paying their numbers must be viewed as a valid portion of the whole (and something to be expected long term). Residents of top cities use trains/subway for virtually everything, certainly including a night on the town, so availability must be there IMO.

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There's tremendous irony in the complaints about not enough parking at 485 and the next station in. A year ago, everyone was complaining about how CATS was over budget and that the project was too much of a cadillac and not enough of a Ford Pinto, and that the costs needed to be contained above all things.

Now, the city has a project on its hand with capacity problems at one end of the line, and its CATS' fault?

If they want to solve the parking issue short-term, it's easy- PRICE the 485 deck $1/car per day if you enter between 6 AM and 9 AM. If that doesn't drive some people to the next lot, move to $2/day.

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There's tremendous irony in the complaints about not enough parking at 485 and the next station in. A year ago, everyone was complaining about how CATS was over budget and that the project was too much of a cadillac and not enough of a Ford Pinto, and that the costs needed to be contained above all things.....
I am not sure of the irony. CATS went $100M over budget which most has been identified to be the result of bungling by the management and their vendors. It was a huge waste of resources and gave birth to the transit tax repeal effort. Because of it a lot of things where short changed on the line which is causing issues with its capacity.

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The roaring success of LYNX makes me think Charlotte should think big, really big. I think that with the upcoming new administration, the city should seek to build a multiline light rail system throughout the county. I think many are still looking at this with outdated eyes when so much has fundamentally changed to make light rail viable in much more territory.

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