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Charlotte's Light Rail: Lynx Blue Line


dubone

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It's been said that the stations were shortened due to cost constraints so it would make it impossible for longer trains to use the stations. Which stations are shortened? Seems like most of them could easily handle a 4 car train.

None of the stations can handle a 4 car train, only 2 max. The only options they have right now without extending the stations is increase the frequency and increase the # of cars when at peak frequency. This would require buying more cars if they are already using the entire fleet during peak hours.

Some have suggested running a 3 car train set and having the train stop twice at each station but that is just not realistic. For one there are road crossings directly adjacent to some of the stations like Carson, this would cause the crossing to be closed for way too long. Two, it would completely interupt the schedule. And three, there is not enough room at 7th street to pull far enough forward to get the 3rd car to the platform.

If they are really running the entire fleet during peak hours then buying more cars is the only option. Anyone know if they are ever running at max capacity?

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^I don't think they are as there are always trains parked at their facility on South Blvd. It's in CATS' interest to run the trains as full as possible, even with standing room, and I suspect that while this gives the illusion we are running at capacity, we are far from it. The design specs for the system seem to be 35K/day, and we are just barely a 1/3 of that.

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^I don't think they are as there are always trains parked at their facility on South Blvd. It's in CATS' interest to run the trains as full as possible, even with standing room, and I suspect that while this gives the illusion we are running at capacity, we are far from it. The design specs for the system seem to be 35K/day, and we are just barely a 1/3 of that.

Unless they're hiding trains in the workshed, all of them are running at rush hour. I can see the yard from New Bern, and except for a couple of lonely trolleys, it is quite empty.

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I think what we may be seeing is that people are more willing to ride than the skeptics claimed in November... but are less willing to be packed onto the trains Manhattan style, than CATS is waiting for. I've already overhead passengers saying they're thinking about switching back to the express busses, because they "have upholstered seats, and you can at least get to sit".

I do also agree they are running all the trains. In order to maintain 7.5 minute intervals on a 9.6 mile track, you'd about have to. I remember on opening day, I was told they would not run a mixture of doube and single trains because it confuses people where to stand on the platforms. Well, they broke that rule already.

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The Lynx Blue Line Avanto S70s were configured with seating for 68 but can hold 236 (that must mean packed crotch to butt).

So a full double car train holds slightly under 500 people. That means theoretically they could pick up max of 5700 people/hour from the CTC and move them south in the evening if they went to all double cars and 5 min. intervals. I am going to guess right now that given the 7.5 min spacing, the speed limit restrictions inside 485, and other logistical issues including not having enough cars, this number is probably closer to 3000/hour.

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Anyone know who I could address this issue with? When traveling south to the light at the Woodlawn station parking lot it seems like you would be able to take a right turn into the lot. Only in the middle of the turn can you notice the two "Do not enter" signes. I've nearly smacked a car a couple times...don't know if I'm an awful driver or if anyone has had the same experience. A simple no right turn sign on the light itself would correct it.

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Not that it's needed, but hypothetically they could run three car trains, and alternate at each station which two trains are actually accessable at the station. eg. First stop- Front and middle train; next stop, middle and back train. That would even out distribution, except for the middle car. Just an option in the deeper future where they wouldn't have to expand the stations. Of course this would get on my nerves after a while and I'd just prefer they expand the stations if it comes down to it in the future...

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^No, The train is not in the same ROW as cars. It doesn't stop at lights, and is not affected by normal traffic in any way. Cars however will have to stop at rail crossings. The train is in the median of N. Tryon, not in a car lane.

Then it's like the light rail in Houston in the photo above?

Cars crash into the light rail cars in Houston. There are too many intersection crossings.

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Then it's like the light rail in Houston in the photo above?....
If you have some information that would prove this then please present it. Otherwise, your conclusion that it will be like Houston is incorrect given the NE extension has not been designed yet. Exactly what point are you trying to make?
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I think what we may be seeing is that people are more willing to ride than the skeptics claimed in November... but are less willing to be packed onto the trains Manhattan style, than CATS is waiting for. I've already overhead passengers saying they're thinking about switching back to the express busses, because they "have upholstered seats, and you can at least get to sit".

I do also agree they are running all the trains. In order to maintain 7.5 minute intervals on a 9.6 mile track, you'd about have to. I remember on opening day, I was told they would not run a mixture of doube and single trains because it confuses people where to stand on the platforms. Well, they broke that rule already.

They have a few spare ones around for when maintenance or repairs are needed on other ones, just like they do with busses. That doesn't mean they should think about ordering some new ones. Its pretty clear that the overwhelming success of the Lynx caught everyone off guard. Also, don't forget that speed is a factor in the schedule, not just the number of cars.

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..... Its pretty clear that the overwhelming success of the Lynx caught everyone off guard. .....
I do agree they were caught off guard, but they still are not carrying the amount of people the current set of cars are projected to handle, 18,000/day, and they are far from the stated capacity of the system. So this tells me they have underestimated and under designed the system to handle peak loads. From the analysis I gave above, it seems that at best they can only handle 3500 people during the 5pm-6pm rush hour. That is only 3000 people are going to use it to leave downtown during this period.
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It might be less than that. Not every train that leaves is a double train, and with 7.5 minute intervals that's 8 departures during the rush "hour". Some will be singles.

The unknown here, is how willing are Charlotteans to cram on the trains. We saw some truly packed trains on opening day... I would not be surprised if there were more than 236 per train then. We have expats from the northeast that may think it's no big deal to cram on board, but I still think most people around here are not psychologically prepared to be so close to strangers every day.

Edited by MZT
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I rode the train to the convention center today and did get my ticket checked by an inspector. Amazingly in the part of the car that I was in there was a couple, and two other people that either did not have valid tickets or no tickets. I did not see any fines being assigned, but the inspector made the offenders get off the train.

And as usual there was the perpetually broken machine at Tyvola station that was broken again, and I had to help a couple who could not figure out how to pay for the tickets once purchased. I really wish they would go with another ticket machine vendor.

The trains were standing room only in both directions, but that is because the time between trains was really long. I am pretty sure it was longer than the 15 minutes they were supposed to be running.

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We have expats from the northeast that may think it's no big deal to cram on board, but I still think most people around here are not psychologically prepared to be so close to strangers every day.

Until the day in the long-distant future when Charlotte is no longer convenient to navigate by car, comfort is going to have to be a high priority in the design of the public transit network. I'm willing to bet that if we polled a typical LYNX train, the vast majority of riders will have decided to take the train on the basis of time-savings and economics (faster and cheaper to ride than to drive)... but that very few would actually be forced onto the train because they had no other option.

Therefore, as soon as the Blue Line becomes physically uncomfortable, we'll see riders start to migrate back to their automobiles. Like it or not, LYNX has to compete with the highways for customers the same way BoA competes with Wachovia. Even though it's gratifying to see trains packed to capacity, Charlotteans generally have the luxury to decide that "enough's enough" and reject public transit if it's not at least roughly as comfortable as a car ride -- meaning you get a seat and are not bothered by strangers. A Manhattan-style riding experience is not competitive in the transit "market" in Charlotte.

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The big O is reporting that only 145 tickets were issued all of last week, which accounts for less than .1% of all riders, and that most transit systems deal with about 2-8% fare evasion.

Of all the trains I've been on during a ticket check, I've only seen one person who outright didn't have a ticket, so I believe these numbers. Kudos, Charlotte.

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This has been posted on CATS website for years and from it we assumed the trains would be running at 15 minute headways on weekends.

"Trains operate seven days a week from 5:00 am until 1:00 am and the fare is equal the cost of local bus fare, currently $1.30. Trains will arrive at stations every 7.5 minutes during rush hour and every 15 minutes during non-peak hours. "

Wrong, its 20 minutes now.

It's been pointed out to me by email that CATS is now posting schedules that indicate they have reduced weekend service to 20 minute headways. A quick check of their recently posted schedules in the stations would seem to confirm this as well. I would think this is way too slow to make for usable transit for most purposes. (unless you are a no-choice rider)

It would not be so bad I guess if the trains actually arrived at the stations at the times indicated, but IM experience, they don't even do that. So if you time it wrong, a round trip on Lynx can have 40 minutes of wait time on it on the weekends. I would contend that if you have a car, you can go anywhere in this county in that amount of time during the weekend.

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It would not be so bad I guess if the trains actually arrived at the stations at the times indicated, but IM experience, they don't even do that. So if you time it wrong, a round trip on Lynx can have 40 minutes of wait time on it on the weekends. I would contend that if you have a car, you can go anywhere in this county in that amount of time during the weekend.

I agree, their weekend service has been pretty crappy. The first few weekends they were meeting their 20 minute timetable without problem. But the past few weekends, there has been perpetual construction causing their weekend timetables to be worthless. Like you said, it wouldn't be a problem if they ran more frequently to begin with.

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This has been posted on CATS website for years and from it we assumed the trains would be running at 15 minute headways on weekends.

"Trains operate seven days a week from 5:00 am until 1:00 am and the fare is equal the cost of local bus fare, currently $1.30. Trains will arrive at stations every 7.5 minutes during rush hour and every 15 minutes during non-peak hours. "

Wrong, its 20 minutes now.

It's been 20 minutes on weekends since it opened, right? I have a paper schedule I picked up in the first week of operation, and it is 20 minutes on that.

But yeah, even with reliable service, I hate seeing any possible wait time over 10 minutes. 15 absolute tops. Speaking as a casual user.

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