Streetcar has nearly 2,000 daily riders in September

Charlotte’s streetcar had nearly 2,000 weekday riders in September.
Charlotte’s streetcar had nearly 2,000 weekday riders in September. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte’s streetcar continues to have more riders than the Charlotte Area Transit System anticipated.

The streetcar, or Gold Line, handled 1,682 passenger trips on weekdays in August. In September, it averaged 1,938 trips.

Before it opened in July, CATS estimated the streetcar would carry about 1,000 passengers on weekdays.

A trip counts as a one-way journey. So a person who takes the streetcar on a round-trip would be counted twice.

While the Gold Line has had success, overall CATS ridership continues to decline. That’s possibly a result of lower gas prices.

In September, overall transit ridership was down 5.6 percent compared with the same month in 2014. Ridership on the Lynx Blue Line declined 6.6 percent, and regular bus service was down 7.4 percent.

The Gold Line operates from Time Warner Cable Area to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center. The city is hoping to extend the line to Johnson C. Smith University to the west and Sunnyside Avenue to the east, a project that would cost about $150 million.

The streetcar is free. When the extension opens, possibly by the end of the decade, CATS plans to charge the cost of a one-way bus fare. That is $2.20 today.

Though the streetcar is attracting riders, it’s also been a challenge to drivers who share the streetcar’s space on the road. A trolley had a minor fender-bender Friday, which was at least the sixth accident or scrape the streetcar has been involved in since its opening.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs