© 2023 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Charlotte's streetcar is averaging a third of the projected average riders in its 1st month

The second phase of the Gold Line streetcar opened Monday.
Steve Harrison/WFAE
The second phase of the Gold Line streetcar opened in August.

Charlotte’s Gold Line streetcar averaged carrying a little more than 1,200 passengers per day during its first full month of operation in September. Before the pandemic, the Charlotte Area Transit System projected the four-mile streetcar would carry 4,100 passengers on the average weekday.

But CATS chief executive John Lewis has said it may take two years to reach that goal because so many people are still working from home. CATS opened a $150 million Gold Line extension at the end of the August.

For CATS, the good news is that ridership on the Lynx Blue Line and express buses to uptown are up compared to a year ago, as workers trickle back to the office.

But fewer people rode local buses last month than in September 2020. And overall transit ridership is still less than half of what it was in September 2019.

The Gold Line is free for the rest of 2021, but CATS is likely to charge the standard bus and train one-way fare of $2.20 starting in January. It’s unclear how a paid fare will impact ridership.

The streetcar replaces the free Gold Rush shuttle bus that ran along much of the same route last decade. CATS ended the shuttle in 2017.

Sign up for our daily headlines newsletter

Select Your Email Format

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.