When the Lynx Blue Line extension opens at 10 a.m. Friday commuters will get a little break: Light-rail trains will operate every 8 minutes during rush hour, as opposed to every 10 minutes today.
The entire ride is projected to be 57 minutes from the I-485/South Boulevard station to the new UNC Charlotte station. As the $1.1 billion extension was being built, there had been discussion about whether CATS would operate some express trains. But the schedule will be consistent seven days a week, with trains stopping at all 26 stations.
Most of the rest of the schedule is the same.
But there are a few changes.
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▪ The first northbound train on weekdays will depart at 5 a.m. from the New Bern station. That’s earlier than the first weekday train today, which leaves at 5:15 a.m. from the I-485 station.
Going the other direction, the first southbound train will leave the UNC Charlotte station at 4:50 a.m. It will arrive at the CTC/Arena station at 5:23 a.m.
▪ Under the current schedule, CATS considers rush hour from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., with trains running every 10 minutes. The new schedule has trains arriving every 8 minutes, but rush hour is a shorter window, from 6:28 a.m. to 8:43 a.m. Trains will arrive every 15 minutes in the early morning and mid-afternoon.
The afternoon rush hour window will be from 3:30 to 6 p.m., with trains arriving every 8 minutes. Today’s afternoon rush hour window has trains arriving every 10 minutes, from 4 to 6 p.m.
▪ The Lynx will operate slightly later on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Today, the final departure from the I-485/South Boulevard station is at 1 a.m. Sunday morning. When the extension opens, the final train from I-485/South Boulevard will leave at 1:20 a.m. and will arrive at UNC Charlotte at 2:17 a.m.
On Sunday night/Monday morning, the final northbound train will leave the I-485 station at midnight. Today’s final train leaves the I-485 station on Sunday morning at 11:30 p.m.