Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations

May 16, 2008 15 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

After a two year hiatus, replica trolleys join Charlotte's new light-rail system along a rail centered corridor. Despite a national slowdown in the real estate industry, new infill development is in full swing.

The nonprofit Charlotte Trolley began using a restored streetcar on a small rail spur in the South End in the late 1990's. The city later expanded the service through uptown to 9th Street, and the Charlotte Area Transit System began operating the trolley. Service stopped in 2006 for light-rail construction.

Ron Tober, Charlotte Trolley's executive director, headed CATS before he stepped down at the end of last year. He said the trolley helped convince Mecklenburg voters in 1998 to approve the half-cent sales tax for mass transit. That tax funds most of CATS' budget.
- Trolley joining Lynx on light-rail tracks - Charlotte Observer - 4/17/08

The annual operating budget for the new 9.6 mile Lynx light rail system is $11.5 million, while the trolley budget is $200,000.

The Charlotte Trolley operates on the same track as the new light rail system. The trolley's addition means the corridor now offers residents two rail based alternatives with multiple stops, both short and long distance.

Looking south towards the light rail operations and maintenance center.

Transit Oriented Development at the New Bern Station.

New residential development a half block from New Bern Station

Looking north from the New Bern Station.

North of New Bern is a mixed-use project called Silos at Southend. A rendering is available here: http://silossouthend.com
Developers planto keep these three old silos and incorporate them in with the design.

The corridor has also enticed Lowe's to move forward with the construction of an urban home improvement store near the line.

New construction near the Lowe's site.

Adaptive reuse development near the Atherton Mill Station.

The Tremont (Trolley Stop Only) Station, a new 11 story mixed use project rises in the background.

Looking north towards East/West Blvd. Station.

Old brick industrial mill warehouses now house new offices, lofts, and other businesses adjacent to the rail line.

Additional development near the Bland Street Station.

The Bland Street Station with Uptown Charlotte in the background.

New construction of transit oriented development at the Bland Street Station.

Development near Carson Station

A pedestrian greenway paralleling the tracks with Carson Station in the background.

A northbound light rail train at Carson Station.

A residentialdevelopment at the Morehead (Trolley stop only) Station.

Looking north from the MoreheadTrolley Stop as a light rail train passes through.

More construction taking place near the MoreheadStation.

Light Rail Ridership Exceeds Expectations

"Ridership on Charlotte Area Transit has hit the highest level in fifty years.

Transit Keith Parker says the figures from February show CATS carried more than two-million passengers… a total that has not been seen since the transit system was a privately-run entity. And compared to February of ‘07, Parker says ridership was up 35-percent.

He says the light rail weekday service carries more than 13-thousand riders a day, which exceeds projections by 40-percent. Parker says the train has already carried it’s one-millionth customer"

- Charlotte WBT News - 4/17/08

Based ofthe success of the starter light rail and streetcar systems, the Charlotte City Council recently approved $30 million to move forward with an 11 mile light rail extension, in addition to the commuter rail plans already on the drawing board. With gas prices now approaching $4.00 a gallon and residents still refusing to jump on the bus, JTA is starting to see the light. Will the leadership fromCity Hall be willingto finallyhop on board?

Images provided by Initiald, a Charlotte forumer at www.skyscraperpage.com

Article written by Ennis Davis