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CATS cutting back Gold Line service as staffing problems persist

The second phase of the Gold Line streetcar opened Monday.
Steve Harrison
The second phase of the Gold Line streetcar.

The Charlotte Area Transit System says it’s cutting back service on the Gold Line streetcar, as the agency continues struggling to fill staffing vacancies. Starting next Saturday, Aug. 19, the Gold Line will run every 30 minutes instead of every 20 minutes.

The transit agency has faced challenges operating the four-mile streetcar since it opened, and CATS says inconsistent service has left riders waiting for streetcars. CATS says it hopes to return to 20-minute service as more drivers are hired.

"CATS is experiencing ongoing challenges with maintaining the current 20-minute schedule, and as a result, riders have faced uncertainty related to frequency of the CityLYNX Gold Line. These disruptions are due to several factors including, staffing constraints and summer events," the agency said in a statement.

CATS has increased recruitment efforts, including targeted digital campaigns and sign-on bonuses. But any staffing improvement is likely to take a while — new rail operators must undergo a minimum of 16 weeks of training, the agency says.

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Ely Portillo has worked as a journalist in Charlotte for over a decade. Before joining WFAE, he worked at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the Charlotte Observer.