Apr 15, 2024 - News

When the Blue Line might have shorter waits

Blue Line light rail car

A Blue Line car passes through South End. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

Charlotte's light rail could one day arrive faster as its recovering transit agency gets back on track with staffing and equipment.

Why it matters: People could be more likely to change their behaviors and use public transit when the wait isn't long and inconvenient.

The big picture: Charlotte Area Transit System tells Axios it eventually aims to drop the light rail to 12-minute frequencies during peak revenue times. But first, it needs to get staffing and equipment up to par.

The latest: The Blue Line runs every 15 minutes during peak hours and at 20-minute intervals during off-peak times.

  • The Gold Line streetcar improved frequencies last month to every 20 minutes, instead of 30 minutes.
  • While the light rail is gaining passengers, the streetcar has lost riders monthly. Leaders suspect that's because of its long headways.
  • It costs taxpayers nearly $19 to move a passenger one mile on the Gold Line, WFAE reported.

Between the lines: Staff and equipment, among other factors, are key to ramping up service intervals, CATS says.

  • Over the past year, the agency has increased staffing through recruitment and retention strategies, as well as by boosting morale, interim CEO Brent Cagle recently told Charlotte City Council.
  • CATS is operating with a 10% job vacancy rate, down from over 20% last year.

What's next: CATS is also catching up with maintenance on its fleet after the state found a defect that existed on all 42 vehicles directly contributed to a derailment. It plans to add one vehicle monthly until the overhaul is complete.

  • Currently, CATS is operating 20 light rail vehicles.
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