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Charlotte's Light Rail: Lynx Blue Line


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I've sent CATS a couple of emails complaining about this practice. I don't understand what is keeping them from running two-car trains much more often than they do. I've been to two different Cable Box events and they were running single car trains afterwards.

Yeah, I sent them one about Fridays in particular. I got a canned reply about how they monitor ridership and adjust accordingly. Right.

I also need to get one sent to them about the circus event at the cable box last Saturday. It was 1-car trains for the inbound, and it was horribly crowded. Oh, and their snow/ice removal was pretty woeful, but maybe I'm expecting too much?

Anyway, all I can figure is that 2-car trains must be MUCH cheaper to run than 1-car. But as I said in my e-mail, that's just poor customer service.

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Just some before and after photos of the view of uptown and the blue line from 11th street. Definitely a big difference!

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Since they went to 10-minute headways at rush hour, every car is a two car train. When they were at 7.5-minute headways, they didn't have enough cars.

When they do single car trains anymore, there are idle cars. I'm sure maintenance time factors into it, but there just isn't any excuse for running single car trains during the evening and cramming families/etc in. If they were using their full capacity, that's one thing, but they're not. Not even close.

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I think the idea is that at the beginning of April when the new cars are here (as long as they don't have to test them for an extended period of time), we'll see if they fill the gaps and run 2-car sets all the time in the scenarios like after arena events. My guess is that they are using them all for every arena event since they are a major source of ridership. So when the new cars arrive, we'll see even more used.

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A lightrail car struck an SUV at a crossing yesterday (or at least I saw the story yesterday). The SUV driver went around the crossing arms and passed in front of the train. The train clipped the left rear of the SUV, doing minor damage. I didn't hear/couldn't tell how much damage was done to the train. Is there a mechanism in place where the driver (insurance) would have to pay for the damage to the train? I would expect so, but I'm not sure.

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Can't find the story online. I wonder if it was yesterday at 3rd St? When I was there at 3:30pm yesterday, the signals were malfunctioning (staying down), so cars were going around them. I called CATS/LYNX customer service and told them and they said they would notify operations right away.

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Can't find the story online. I wonder if it was yesterday at 3rd St? When I was there at 3:30pm yesterday, the signals were malfunctioning (staying down), so cars were going around them. I called CATS/LYNX customer service and told them and they said they would notify operations right away.

It's weird, I can't find it mentioned online anywhere either. But, I def. saw the video of the incident on WBTV yesterday. They have the actual CATS footage (that they requested according to the story) of the incident, not just video the station took after the fact. This morning they were showing footage of the rear of the SUV. The damage was very minimal to the SUV, so I assume it was also minor to the train. They did not show a close up of the damage to the train (or mention it for that matter).

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Thought you guys may be interested in this...

New York Times~04/05/2010

One bit of advice from Denver, where we are now doing a lot of expensive retrofits to correct our own errors. Don't extend for three cars. Extend for a minimum of four. It will cost way less to do it now than trying again to catch up in the future. Maybe not the suped-up substations yet, but at least get the platforms long enough. If possible go for five, since that's the maximum consist length for LRTs (well, of the Siemens variety at least). If the Feds offer enough money to "fix the problem" of Lynx being undersized (which was admittedly their own fault through the funding guidelines in place at the time -- see story), use it wisely.

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Unless I'm mistaken, the blue line station length is restricted in Uptown to 300', since the blocks are 350' long. But three car trains x max 5 minute headway can provide a huge amount of capacity. As bullish as I am on transit, I don't think that's a capacity we'll need for a very long time.

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I'm sure that could be done, but I think there's a size constraint in Uptown's 350' blocks that limits the line to three cars max. And Uptown is exactly where you would need all the doors open at once.

At the end of the day, I think three car platforms would serve our capacity needs for many, many years out. They can go to 5 minute headways or even remove seats/rearrange seats in cars if we found ourselves in a really tight situation.

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At the end of the day, I think three car platforms would serve our capacity needs for many, many years out. They can go to 5 minute headways or even remove seats/rearrange seats in cars if we found ourselves in a really tight situation.

I agree!

Despite the higher operating costs I would much prefer shorter headways to longer trains at existing headways.

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If it costs $67 million to extend the platforms to 3-car length, and $80 million to extend them to 4-car, then obviously go for 4-car. However, if it would cost $150 million for 4-car, then just live with 3-car platforms until such a time as it is completely unworkable.

By a quick Google Maps aerial inspection, there's probably enough room for 4-car platforms at all the existing stations except 7th street. Those would be especially challenging. Elevated stations like Trade, 3rd, Stonewall, Archdale, and Tyvola look doable but expensive.

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Well, apparently CATS is going whole-hog on an advertising pilot project.

http://www.wbtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=12296690

The ad campaign will start this week and last for two weeks and "The ads will raise $30,000 in revenue – and will be image wraps of both sides of all 16 Lynx trains."

It doesn't say what will be advertised, but does mention that the pilot is parallel to the Bobcats' playoff appearance (implied: Bobcats' ads?)

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CBJ has a little more info:

Ads will feature NBA All-Star Gerald Wallace, team logos and the message “Bobcats on the Prowl” to promote the franchise’s first playoff berth.

Read more: Charlotte Business Journal: Charlotte Bobcats riding the (ad) rails

Personally, I love the idea and just hopes it looks as cool as it sounds. I'm going to go ahead and credit Jordan with this move of bringing excitement to CLT about the Cats in the playoffs.

Also a 30K in a one-off financial injection to the CATS system can't hurt either

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If you watch last night City Council meeting on charmeck.org they flash up a rendering of what the ad will look like on the train. Pay attention though...it only lasts for about a second.

Saw it on the news this morning. My initial impression is that it looks really cool. I think it's a nice thing for both the Bobcats and LYNX.

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Where I think all of the light rail systems everywhere have missed the boat is in station advertising. I'm sure it's this way in Uptown as well, but some of the LRT stations we have here are in some incredibly high profile, and highly visible locations. Airports make a chunk of change off of merely advertising to its captives -- er, passengers -- and most of the subways do that in the US as well. However, for some strange reason, LRT projects from California to New York have built these sterile facilities that only Stalin could love, and without including any revenue enhancements such as newsstands, coffee kiosks, or static advertising.

But there's more! It doesn't have to be just passengers on the platform as the market (which here would be substantial enough). For instance, we have a station in Denver at I-25 & Broadway, just south of downtown, that sits just underneath a freeway with an annual average daily traffic count of just under 200,000, with the section of freeway just north of there reaching for the 220,000 mark (CDOT, 2008). Put an electronic display board on a spindle down there, and you have some massive potential income. So why don't they do it? Don't know. Frustrating, especially when one thinks of the dire straits that transit agencies are in these days. I could see one of these working out of the I-485/South Station and doing very well.

Train wraps are all well and good (even if they are tacky), but it's chump change by comparison to some alternatives. Transit agencies pay big bucks for these sites, so they should maximize every advantage they can from them.

Edited by vitaviatic
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I've often wondered why none of the Lynx overpasses, like Woodlawn, Tyvola or I-277 don't say "Lynx" on the side, just so newcomers or the clueless know what they are passing under. Marta has it's name posted on every overpass in Atlanta. Also, why isn't the Lynx bridge at least lighted at night? I know these are costly and more or less cosmetic, but a little signage and bridge lighting can go a long way in advertising.

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