Due to an increase in sales tax revenues and low fuel prices, the Charlotte Area Transit System isn’t under the same budget pressures as the city of Charlotte, and plans to increase bus service slightly for the upcoming fiscal year.
CATS plans to increase bus service from 832,000 hours to 837,000 hours. It expects its buses to carry 20.4 million people, up from 20.2 million.
Lynx Blue Line service will remain the same. Light-rail ridership is projected to increase from 5.2 million riders this year to 5.3 million.
The transit system is planning two expansions to bus service.
One is to extend the existing 53X route to Highland Creek, once the last section of Interstate 485 opens this summer. CATS plans to have on-street parking for riders on Ridge Road near Benfield Road.
The other addition is service to a new Department of Veterans Affairs health center at West Tyvola Road and Cascade Pointe Boulevard.
“We want to get as close to the front door as we can,” said Larry Kopf, the transit system’s chief operating officer.
In June, the first leg of the streetcar will open in uptown, from Time Warner Cable Arena to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center. When the streetcar opens, CATS will shorten the free Gold Rush shuttle, having it run only from Johnson C. Smith University to the arena.
CATS implemented a fare increase last year, and hasn’t proposed a fare hike this year.