To handle higher than expected ridership, CATS is considering increasing the frequency of Lynx trains during rush hour, from every 7.5 minutes to every 6 minutes.
The move wouldn't increase the number of seats available to commuters, because CATS is already using all available train cars at peak times. But it would offer faster service, and could keep station platforms from becoming too crowded.
At rush hour, CATS has eight8 trains an hour. If it splits some two-car trains, it could have 10 trains an hour.
“We have to do testing,” said CATS chief executive Keith Parker.
One concern is that running two additional trains each hour would result in more traffic tie-ups for motorists crossing the rail line. And adding more trains would also increase operating expenses because more drivers would be needed.
During rush hour, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit operates its trains about every five minutes. In Atlanta, rush-hour trains arrive every 10 minutes.
Parker also has put a price tag on upgrading the Lynx Blue Line to handle more riders: $50 million.
Most of that money would pay for additional train cars, as well as to lengthen the station platforms so they could accommodate three-car trains. When the Lynx was being designed, CATS originally planned for longer platforms, but shrunk them to save money.
When that decision was made, I'm not sure there was anyone in Charlotte – not even former CATS chief executive Ron Tober – who thought CATS would be talking so soon about needing longer platforms and longer trains.