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|Headquarters||300 East Trade Street, Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Locale||City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County|
|Service type||Bus and Light Rail (as LYNX)|
|Routes||50 local, 19 express|
45 park and rides
|Fuel type||Diesel, Hybrid|
|Operator|| RATP Dev (bus)|
Charlotte Area Transit System (rail)
|Chief executive||John M. Lewis, Jr.|
The Charlotte Area Transit System, commonly referred to as CATS, is the public transit system in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. It operates bus and rail service around the Charlotte metropolitan area. This includes a bus rapid transit line called the Sprinter, a light rail line called the LYNX Blue Line, and a streetcar line called CityLYNX Gold Line.
John M. Lewis, Jr. was selected as the new CEO of CATS in July 2015 and started the job in mid-August 2015.Lewis replaced Carolyn Flowers, who had served in the role since 2010 and resigned to take a position at the Federal Transit Administration.
Bus transportation was provided by the Charlotte Department of Transportation under the branding known as Charlotte Transit, which was in existence from 1976 to 1999.(Charlotte Transit is not to be confused with Charlotte Area Transit System despite the similarity in name.) Most routes were local, with virtually no express service to outlying areas with the exception of two express routes. Service became inadequate to serve the rapidly growing population, especially in the southern and eastern portions, which began to be built up during 1990s. A referendum was passed in 1998 by Mecklenburg County citizens to approve a 1/2% sales tax to improve public transportation over the next few years. The move created the Metropolitan Transit Commission in 1999 to oversee improvements in Charlotte and nearby suburbs and bordering counties. It eventually led to consolidation of Charlotte Transit and MTC in 2000, forming the new Charlotte Area Transit System. Since then, more express routes were added to the edges of Mecklenburg County and some local bus service was expanded, especially to the fast-growing South Charlotte. On August 19, 2007 the Charlotte Observer revealed that mass transit on Charlotte's existing bus-only system has increased ridership by 66% since 1998, but its operating budget had increased by 170% after adjusting for inflation.
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CATS bus service serves Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, with service in Charlotte, Davidson, Huntersville, Cornelius, Matthews, Pineville, and Mint Hill.
CATS operates local routes within the city of Charlotte, with the majority of those multiple-stop routes serving the Charlotte Transportation Center in Uptown. While crosstown service is scarce, other routes that do not serve Uptown mainly connect directly between LYNX rail stations and outlying neighborhoods. The transit system has since built three more transit centers to serve different parts of the city in the mid-2000s: the Eastland Community Transit Center in East Charlotte located near the now-closed Eastland Mall, the SouthPark Community Transit Center in South Charlotte located inside the parking garage of South Park Mall, and the Rosa Parks Community Transit Center in North Charlotte located near Johnson C. Smith University.
Express buses in the CATS system serve Union County, Concord, Gastonia, and Rock Hill, South Carolina.
CATS also operates the Special Transportation Service (STS) which provides transportation to people with disabilities certified as eligible based on the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. STS provides service during the same times and in the same locations as the fixed route bus service.
The CATS system transports over 80,000 weekday riders across all of its services. Ridership for Fiscal Year 2010 reached over 24 million riders, a yearly amount not experienced in Charlotte since the late 1940s.
CATS, in conjunction with NCDOT, operates an HOV lane on the expressway portion of Independence Boulevard. The HOV lane has been in operation since 1998.
CATS operates with a fleet of 323 buses on 73 bus routes.
|Fleet Series (Year Built)||Length||Engine source||Notes|
| MCI |
|501-510 (2001)||40 ft (12 m)||Diesel|
|45 ft (14 m)||Diesel|
|40 ft (12 m)||Diesel|
| Gillig |
BRT HEV (G19D102N4)
|2501–2502 (2005)||40 ft (12 m)||Diesel-Electric Hybrid|
BRT HEV (G30D102N4)
|40 ft (12 m)||Diesel-Electric Hybrid|
|40 ft (12 m)||Diesel|
BRT 29' (G27E102R2)
|29 ft (8.8 m)||Diesel|
BRT HEV 29' (G30E102R2)
|29 ft (8.8 m)||Diesel-Electric Hybrid|
On February 22, 2006, the Charlotte Area Transit System announced that its rapid rail lines will be called the "Lynx." The name fits in with the city's cat theme (the NFL team is the Carolina Panthers and the NBA team was known as the Charlotte Bobcats when the name was chosen); also, "Lynx" is a homophone of "links", and was mainly chosen because the light rail is about "connectivity."
The rapid rail cars are black, silver and blue, the colors of the Carolina Panthers. Gold will appear around the "Lynx" logo to tie in the history of the Charlotte region being home to the first major U.S. Gold Rush.
The original light rail system used 16 Siemens S70 train carsacquired for $50 million. In 2012, after 4 years of operation, the trains had to be repaired at the Siemens facility in California for an estimated cost of $400,000 each. The system is the only commuter rail system in the two Carolinas.
On November 24, 2007 the LYNX Blue Line opened. It runs 9.6 miles (15.5 km) between Uptown Charlotte and stops short of Pineville, using a railroad right-of-way paralleling South Boulevard in its entirety. The line has 15 stations. The 9.6 miles (15.4 km) line runs from its northern terminus in Uptown before traversing South End and paralleling South Boulevard to its southern terminus just north of Interstate 485 at the Pineville city limits. It became the first major rapid rail service of any kind in North Carolina, and began operating seventy years after a previous Charlotte streetcar system was disbanded in 1938, in favor of motorized bus transit.
A 9.4-mile (15.1 km) extension of the present 9.6-mile (15.4 km) segment, originally referred to as the "Northeast Corridor", added 11 stations between Uptown and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Originally, completion of the extension was estimated to cost $1.12 billion, including an additional 1.2-mile (1.9 km) of track and two stations north of UNC Charlotte, ending at I-485 just south of Cabarrus County. However, due to the effects of the late 2000s – early 2010s recession, CATS voted to shorten the line and reduce the cost to $977 million.
The extension is intended to carry an estimated 24,500 weekday boardings by 2035 and serves four park and ride stations.City transportation and planning officials have predicted the new line could lead to the construction of 10,000 new housing units, as well as the development of nearly 4 million square feet of offices and 1.3 million square feet of retail space. On July 18, 2013, the official groundbreaking took place near the 9th Street Station, with the mayor of Charlotte Patsy Kinsey, N.C. Governor Pat McCrory and other officials in attendance. The extension opened on March 16, 2018.
A 1.5-mile (2.4 km) streetcar line, the first segment of the CityLYNX Gold Line, commenced service on July 14, 2015. This section runs from the Charlotte Transportation Center / Arena station to Hawthorne Lane & 5th Street.
Gold Line is a planned 9.9-mile modern streetcar route running from Rosa Parks Community Transit Center, through Uptown Charlotte, down Central Avenue and terminating at Eastland Community Transit Center. A Federal Urban Circulator Grant was awarded in July 2010, allowing construction of phase one, a 1.5-mile segment between the Charlotte Transportation Center in Uptown and Presbyterian Hospital on Elizabeth Avenue. It opened on 14 July 2015; the second phase is scheduled to open in 2019.
Future expansion includes plans for light rail, streetcars and bus rapid transit along the corridors in the 2030 Transit Corridor System Plan adopted in 2006 by Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC).On May 6, 2013, a 30-member transit funding task force released a draft report in which they estimated it would cost $3.3 billion to build the remaining transit corridors, and $1.7 billion to operate and maintain the lines through 2024. To fund the build-out by sales taxes alone would require a 0.78 cent increase in the sales tax, which would need to be approved by the state General Assembly. The committee recommended any sales tax increase be limited to 0.5 cent and other methods used to raise funds; some suggested methods included:
Although build-out of the entire system has been estimated for completion by 2030,by July 2015, the Charlotte Area Transit System reported it lacked the funds to support any future transit projects apart from the already budgeted 2.5-mile long Phase 2 segment of the CityLYNX Gold Line.
Two further segments of the CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar line, totaling 8.4-mile (13.5 km), have been planned. Phase 2 will be using the 6 new Siemens S70 hybrid streetcars for $40 million and will replace the green and yellow Gomaco replica vehicles. The CityLYNX Gold Line Phase 2 project is set to break ground in January 2017 with revenue service beginning in 2020.
When complete, the line will connect the University Park area of west Charlotte with Eastway Park area in east Charlotte by way of Uptown Charlotte, in a primarily east-west direction. Proposals call for its completion by 2023.CATS estimates that the completed route will have an average daily ridership of between 14,200 and 16,700 passengers by 2030. Groundbreaking for the initial 1.5-mile segment took place on December 12, 2012 in front of Presbyterian Hospital, with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Mayor Foxx and other officials in attendance. The initial 1.5 mile (2.41 kilometer) segment (Phase 1) between Time Warner Cable Arena and Presbyterian Hospital opened on July 14, 2015. A further 2.5 mile (4.02 kilometer) segment (Phase 2) from the Charlotte Transportation Center/TWC Arena to French Street, and from Presbyterian Hospital to Hawthorne Lane has received funding. Construction of this segment is scheduled to begin by 2016, and to be open by late 2019. The third and final phase between Hawthorne Lane and Eastland CTC, and from French Street to Rosa Parks CTC, is scheduled for completion by 2023 at a cost of $231 million.
The Silver Line is a proposed 13.5-mile (21.7 km) rapid transit corridor to be operated as bus rapid transit (BRT) (or possibly as a light rail line) between the CPCC Levine Campus in Matthews and the proposed Gateway Station in Uptown Charlotte. Proposals call for it to be complete through Idlewild Road by 2022, Sardis Road North by 2024 and finally to CPCC Levine by 2026. As aligned, the completed line will have 16 stations and be completed at an estimated cost of $582 million. By October 2012, the MTC had decided in favor of a busway on interior lanes of the highway. In May 2013, however, a 30-member funding task force suggested a light rail line for the proposed route, at an estimated cost of $1.7 billion. So far, no definite plans to begin construction have been made.
The West Corridor is a proposed 6.4-mile (10.3 km) streetcar line, connecting Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in west Charlotte with Uptown Charlotte. Proposals call for completion by 2034. With a completion date over two decades away, in 2008 CATS announced enhanced bus service along this corridor to serve as a placeholder until the line can be constructed. Called Sprinter, the service began in September 2009 and features fewer stops and timing similar to that of the future streetcar route.
The Red Line is a proposed, but effectively discontinued 25-mile (40 km) commuter rail line. To be constructed along existing Norfolk Southern tracks, the line was intended to provide service to the towns of Huntersville, Cornelius, and Davidson in northern Mecklenburg County. The line was to be serviced by diesel multiple unit trains, and the southern terminus was the proposed Gateway Station in Uptown Charlotte. On October 17, 2012, the N.C. DOT, the Red Line Task Force, and CATS requested Norfolk Southern to conduct a study of the Red Line concept. As the Red Line would have utilized the NS O-Line between Charlotte and Mooresville, the study intended to determine if and how both freight and passenger services could use the same line while allowing normal freight services to continue. At a meeting of the task force on October 24, it was estimated the study could be initiated by late January 2013 and completed by early 2014, after which further feasibility studies and projections could be made. On June 25, 2014, following the completion and release of the feasibility study, CATS officials said the Red Line would be too costly and complicated to build. Several reasons were provided, including:
Despite the negative assessments of the feasibility study, the Metropolitan Transit Commission, including the Red Line task force, has not taken any official steps to disband the project.
91 Charlotte Trolley operated within Uptown Charlotte from August 30, 1996 to June 28, 2010. The heritage trolley used vintage replica trolleys, serving 11 stations from Atherton Mill to 9th Street. Its operation was shared between the City of Charlotte and Charlotte Trolley Inc., a non-profit organization. The successes of the trolley led to the LYNX Blue Line light rail along the same right-of-way.
Source: CATS 2010 Annual Report, National Transit Database'
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The Washington Street Elevated was an elevated segment of Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway system, comprising the southern stretch of the Orange Line. It ran from Chinatown through the South End and Roxbury, ending in Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain, Boston.
The Charlotte Trolley was a heritage streetcar that operated in Charlotte in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The line ran along the former Norfolk Southern right of way between Tremont Avenue in the Historic South End in a northerly direction to its terminus at 9th Street Uptown. It ran on tracks mostly shared with the LYNX Blue Line.
The Charlotte Transportation Center (CTC), also known as Arena or CTC/Arena, is an intermodal transit station in Center City Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. It serves as the central hub for the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) buses and connects with the LYNX Blue Line and CityLYNX Gold Line. It is located on East Trade Street, Fourth Street and Brevard Street. Notable places nearby include the Bank of America Corporate Center, Belk Theater, EpiCentre, Overstreet Mall and the Spectrum Center.
Stonewall is a light rail station for the LYNX Blue Line in Center City Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. The station, which features side platforms that sit on either side of the tracks, is located on top of the parking structure for the Westin Charlotte, which it is also adjacent too. Access directly to Stonewall Street is by nearby stairs and elevator. Notable places nearby the station include Bank of America Stadium, Duke Energy Center, Harvey B. Gantt Center, Mint Museum Uptown and the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
I-485/South Boulevard is a light rail station for the LYNX Blue Line in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. The station, which features an island platform that sit between the two tracks and the largest park and ride along the line, is located adjacent to Sterling Elementary School off South Boulevard, a major north–south route through Charlotte. Notable places nearby the station include the Carolina Pavilion and Carolina Place Mall.
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The Red Line was a planned commuter rail extension for the LYNX network in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Red Line, or North Corridor, would serve as a commuter rail line between Mount Mourne in southern Iredell County and the proposed Gateway Station in Uptown Charlotte. It would primarily serve the towns of Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson in northern Mecklenburg County.
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The CityLynx Gold Line is a streetcar line in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States, the first phase of which opened in 2015. The line is an extension of the Charlotte Area Transit System's Lynx rail system. With two additional phases planned for completion by 2023, the line is ultimately intended to connect the University Park area of west Charlotte with Eastland Community Transit Center in east Charlotte via Uptown Charlotte. It is proposed to follow a primarily east-west path along Beatties Ford Road, Trade Street and Central Avenue, through central Charlotte. In 2006, it was projected to be 10 miles (16 km) long with 34 stops and be completed between Rosa Parks Place and Presbyterian Hospital by 2019 at a cost of $211 million. CATS estimated that the completed route would have an average daily ridership of between 14,200 and 16,700 passengers by 2030.
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The Lynx Blue Line is a light rail line in Charlotte, North Carolina. The 19.3-mile (31.1 km) line goes from its northern terminus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in University City through NoDa, Uptown, and South End then paralleling South Boulevard to its southern terminus just north of Interstate 485 at the Pineville city limits. There are 26 stations in the system, the light rail portion of which carries an average of over 23,200 passenger trips every day. It is the first major rapid rail service of any kind in North Carolina, and began operating seventy years after the previous Charlotte streetcar system was disbanded in 1938, in favor of motorized bus transit. It opened on November 24, 2007 between I-485/South Boulevard and 7th Street as the first rail line of the Charlotte Area Transit System. Fares were not collected as part of the opening celebration. Regular service with fare collection commenced the next day.
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