Light Rail Debuts To Over-Capacity Crowd

<p>Charlotte, North Carolina, overwhelmed by turnout for free rides on new light rail line, which exceeded capacity nearly three-fold. Officials now wonder if their ridership estimates have been placed too low.</p>
November 27, 2007, 7am PST | Nate Berg
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"CATS expects the state's first light-rail line will handle 9,100 passenger trips on an average weekday in its first year. Saturday, it handled 34,000 trips in the first four hours -- well above capacity -- and 60,000 by evening, CATS estimated."

"Trains rolled into stations with people standing nose to shoulder, often allowing only inches for new passengers to board. Riders waited as long as two hours at the I-485/South Boulevard station for free rides. And the Charlotte Area Transit System began driving rail passengers back to their cars on buses because the lines for return train trips were so long."

"CATS worked frantically to get trains moving faster, so passengers wouldn't grow frustrated and leave. Riders exceeded the line's maximum capacity of 25,000 trips in four hours."

"Tober said that commuters Monday should expect much smaller crowds -- mostly because passengers will have to pay and children will be in school."

"But as lines grew Saturday, Tober said he wondered whether CATS will need more trains sooner than he expected."

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Published on Sunday, November 25, 2007 in The Charlotte Observer
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