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Increasing ridership is part of the equation for CATS

For the Charlotte Area Transit System, it's simple math.

Soaring gas prices plus the opening of the Lynx Blue Line equals previously unseen ridership numbers.

CATS announced earlier this month that it finished fiscal year 2008 with a 17.4 percent ridership increase across all of its modes of public transportation from 2007.

A breakdown of some of the numbers:

An average of 14,147 light-rail riders per weekday. Officials estimated 9,100 before it opened.

A 17.3 percent increase in ridership on regional express bus routes from 2007.

About 23 million trips across all services, or an average of more than 88,000 riders per weekday.

One of the only transportation modes to suffer? The Gold Rush, which CATS says lost riders to the light rail.

Gold Rush ridership numbers were down 1.2 percent from last year.

Heads up

UPTOWN: Top cycling teams from around the country will take over a few center-city streets Saturday, Aug. 2 for the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium. Closings start at 8 a.m. with the 100 blocks of Trade and Tryon in both directions, otherwise known as The Square. At 4:30 p.m., Third Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Sixth Street, Seventh Street, Church Street and College Street will close around the Trade and Tryon blocks. Streets should re-open by late Saturday.

PLAZA MIDWOOD: Construction will prohibit through traffic on Nassau Boulevard between Belle Terre Avenue and Thurmond Place from Wednesday, July 30, through Friday, Aug.1. Driveway access will be allowed.

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