CHARLOTTE, N.C. Charlottes bus and rail system will have thousands of extra riders this week, and so far the system is running well, according to a Charlotte Area Transit System spokesman.
This is not the first time the organization has faced large incoming crowds, said CATS spokesperson Olaf Kinard. He compares the load of passengers to that of a Panthers game or Speed Street, where it is common to handle more than 20,000 Lynx light rail riders daily.
Weve handled crowds for several years, Kinard said. We are as prepared as we can be for the unknown.
Passengers crowded into the Lynx light rail on 3rd Street in uptown Charlotte on Sunday afternoon.
Transit officer Darrell Warren, who patrols the Tyvola Station near Old Pineville Road, said having shoulder-to-shoulder passengers on the rail on a Sunday is not common.
This is history for Charlotte and everybody is ramping up for the DNC, Warren said. Its good for the city.
On a normal schedule, Kinard said the rail shuttles about 15,000 people daily on weekdays and 8,000 to 12,000 daily on weekends.
He anticipates that number jumping to 25,000 to 30,000 during the Democratic National Convention, with the busiest days expected to be today and Thursday.
Massachusetts delegate Carmen Fields caught the rail at the Tyvola Station on Sunday, traveling north into uptown. This is her second time visiting Charlotte, and first time using the rail.
Charlotte is a lovely neighborhood and community, she said of her stay so far. Fields drove into uptown early Sunday, but faced challenges parking, so she chose to use the light rail for transportation later in the afternoon.
CATS has more than 70 bus and light rail routes to ease congestion on roadways. To further accommodate DNC crowds, Kinard said the system will run extra trains and buses. More trains will begin to run every 10 minutes, as opposed to the regular 15-minute intervals.
Kinard said the 9.6-mile rail line that runs from I-485 at South Blvd. to uptown Charlotte, as well as the bus lines, are the best forms of transportation for visitors.
The great thing about Lynx is that we are out of congestion, Kinard said. Its a great opportunity.
The Lynx operates seven days a week and utilizes 15 stations, including seven park-and-ride locations.
Non-DNC weekday service operates from 5:26 a.m. to 1:26 a.m. and is available every 10 minutes during rush hour and every 15 minutes during non-peak hours. Weekend service operates every 20 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes during late hours.
During the convention, the Lynx rail will operate from the I-485 at South Boulevard Station to the Stonewall Station. Customers who want to connect to a bus route will need to change at the Carson Street Station. The Charlotte Transit Center will return to normal operations on Thursday.