The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) was awarded an $18 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery III (TIGER III) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for “capacity enhancements” along the LYNX Blue Line. The announcement was made by Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff.
“The City of Charlotte’s Blue Line has far surpassed ridership forecasts and this TIGER grant will help to accommodate more riders in the short run, while preparing for the greater growth is expected in the future,” Rogoff said. “The U.S. Department of Transportation is pleased to be your partner in finding transit solutions that meet the needs of residents and visitors.”
“This grant provides CATS the ability to move towards operating three-car trains along extended platforms on the LYNX Blue Line,” said Carolyn Flowers, CATS CEO. “The money received today will also be used to enhance the power along the line for running more light rail cars, which will assist CATS in future operational savings by being able to run longer trains. We would not have been able to make these service enhancements at this time without the help of the FTA.”
In excess of 19 million riders have used the LYNX Blue since it opened in November 2007.
Light rail ridership in Charlotte continues to “exceed expectations” as the light rail system carries over 15,000 passengers per weekday.
This $18 million dollar grant will allow CATS to increase capacity for current and future ridership growth. Improving capacity on transit service, commuters in Charlotte will have greater mobility and access to alternate transportation as the city continues to grow. Charlotte has seen a 35 percent population increase since 2005, making it one of the fastest growing cities in America. Charlotte is considered the 17th largest city in the country.
“This is wonderful news,” says Darrin Vickers of Charlotte. “The Blue Line was crowded with people in the mornings and evening, you understand. Everyone coming and going to work,” he said.
City officials welcome the grant and say the $18 million dollars will help provide some jobs to the city as well. People I talked to say they commute by light rail because it’s cheaper and less expensive than driving a car every day.
“It just makes sense,” says Hugh Tomecko of Charlotte. “When you factor in things like the cost of gas, insurance and parking, I don’t see why more people don’t opt for light rail,” he said.
See Youtube speech by Peter Rogoff http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPgKG368cPQ.
To learn more about CATS and its services, or purchase light rail passes log on to www.ridetransit.org or call CATS Customer Service at 704-336-7433.