CATS – a green flag alternative for Speedway fans

Charlotte Area Transportation System officials say a growing number of NASCAR fans are letting bus drivers deal with the congested roads around Charlotte Motor Speedway for the track’s major events.

CATS again this year will run the Concord Express bus from uptown to the speedway for both Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600 on May 25.

Transit officials said ridership has been strong on the route, which features a number of stops uptown and drops off fans at the front entrance of the speedway.

“If you’re the least bit unsure of where to park, this is the perfect way to go,” CATS spokeswoman Jean Leier said. “It’s really convenient.”

Officials at Charlotte Motor Speedway and with the N.C. Highway Patrol said the CATS buses are a great alternative to fans who don’t want to deal with congestion near the track.

The All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600 typically attract crowds of 90,000 fans or more.

Scott Cooper, vice president of communications for Charlotte Motor Speedway, said the Highway Patrol has done an excellent job of getting fans in and out of the track for big races, but he said the CATS buses offer another option.

“It’s pretty convenient,” he said.

Leier said some fans who don’t want to leave from uptown have taken to parking their vehicles at Park-and-Ride lots, catching Lynx trains to uptown, and then getting aboard the bus.

Buses will leave uptown every 20 minutes, between noon and about 6 p.m. There are stops at the Transportation Center on East Fourth Street, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and most major uptown hotels.

Buses leave the speedway from the front entrance for about two hours after the race.

The fare is $8 round trip. Fans are permitted to bring small coolers onto the bus, but no eating or drinking is permitted on the bus.