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Number of transit riders is highest in 60 years

Think your local bus or light-rail car is crowded now?

It's nothing compared to the cramped buses in the '30s and '40s.

Charlotte Area Transit System announced recently that the 2.3 million trips taken on all forms of its public transportation in July marked the highest number in more than 60 years.

In the late '40s especially, the transportation system saw similar numbers, only with a significantly smaller fleet of buses.

Though she couldn't find the exact number of buses, Brooks Newkirk of CATS said the annual ridership in the late '40s went “well over” 20 million, for an average right around July's figures. The city's population has increased by about six times since the '40s.

History may repeat itself. Streetcars that contributed to the high ridership numbers and ended in the '30s, could return.

The city's studying possible plans for the streetcar to first run through uptown from Beatties Ford Road to Presbyterian Hospital by 2013, with a possible later extension to the airport and Eastland Mall. The first leg's expected to cost around $211 million. Results of the study should be available in early 2009.

Heads up

Labor Day Parade: A portion of Tryon Street will close to motorists the morning of Sept. 1 to accommodate the Labor Day Parade. The parade will start at Ninth and Tryon streets and goes to Third and Tryon. It will run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., but beware of post-parade traffic issues with people leaving the city.

Closing: Brandywine Road between Selwyn Avenue and Woodlawn Road will be closed for approximately three months due to the installation of storm-water pipes. Local access will be available. Through traffic will get re-routed.

New buses: Charlotte Area Transit System has upgraded its Special Transportation Services fleet with 24 replacement buses. STS offers door-to-door transportation for those with special needs. The buses are expected to be introduced by Labor Day.

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