CATS reports ridership still roaring

Weekday ridership on the Lynx Blue Line dipped slightly in August compared to July, but the Charlotte Area Transit System still carried more total passengers on buses and trains than it did the month before.

The average weekday light-rail ridership was 16,377 trips in August, down from 16,936 in July. That is still far above the train's first-year goal of 9,100 average weekday trips, and transit officials are hopeful they can reach their 2025 goal of 18,100 trips before the end of the year.

Overall CATS ridership was 2.335 million in August, up from 2.305 million in July. CATS carried 1.782 million people in August 2007, before the LYNX opened.

CATS saw a surge of ridership this summer, in part due to $4-a-gallon gas. Though prices are high again due to Hurricane Ike, prices are expected to drop this fall.

It's unknown how many summer transit riders will keep riding. Though lower gas prices could shrink ridership, the Lynx is expected to benefit from more special events uptown.

The Carolina Panthers' season has now started, and the Charlotte Checkers and Charlotte Bobcats will start their seasons later this fall.

“I think you'll see more medium to large size events uptown this fall,” said Olaf Kinard, a marketing and communications manager for CATS.

Lynx ridership on Saturdays in August averaged 15,838, up from 10,994 in July. Sunday ridership was also higher.

The Carolina Panthers played two preseason games on Saturdays in August, and Bank of America Stadium also hosted a football game between East Carolina and Virginia Teach.

Kinard said the Lynx handled more than 11,000 trips on Sunday, when Barack Obama held an uptown rally. The Lynx usually carries about 5,000 trips on a Sunday.