Charlotte Area Transit System Gets an Ultimatum: Fill Staffing Gaps or Cease Operations

The Charlotte Area Transit System must fully staff its Rail Operating Control Center or else. It’s only the latest challenge for the city’s troubled light rail transit system.

2 minute read

April 10, 2023, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Lynx Blue Line

meunierd / Shutterstock

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) recently sent a letter informing the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) that it must bring its Rail Operating Control Center (ROCC) to full staffing or else it must cease operations, according to an article by Genna Contino.

NCDOT recently performed a surprise inspection, finding the ROCC operated by one staff member. “It’s standard for at least two controllers to work at the same time to run both Charlotte’s Gold Line and Blue Line trains efficiently, the NCDOT inspection found,” writes Contino. “It’s preferable for a rail controller chief to also be working with them, interim CATS CEO Brent Cagle said.”

Cagle is on the record saying that the ROCC will be fully staffed within three to six months. A mandatory overtime schedule will maintain staffing and service in the meantime.

The staffing shortage at the ROCC was precipitated by the firing of the light rail controller Terry Creech on duty at the time of the Blue Line derailment in May 2022, according to an earlier paywalled article published by the Charlotte Observer.

The derailment is creating all sorts of trouble for CATS, however. A recent report called for the CATS fleet of light rail trains to be repaired with urgency. A March article by Greg Lacour called the situation at CATS a “train wreck.”

The Charlotte experience is another example of an ongoing crisis with the service and maintenance of public transit in the United States, as declining revenues and stagnant ridership coincide with operator shortages and perceptions of increased crime on transit systems all over the country.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023 in Charlotte Observer

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