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Success of Lynx Bodes Well for Blue Line Extension

http://66.225.205.104/JR20080826a.mp3

Light rail is just a year old in Charlotte, but already average Lynx ridership is within reach of its goal for 2025. Skeptics have scoffed at projections that 18-thousand people would ride the light rail daily by 2025. But last month, nearly 17-thousand were already taking Lynx each weekday. Charlotte Area Transit System CEO Keith Parker credits what he calls "a confluence of good fortune." "The heavy emphasis and attention the Lynx line got early on, spurred people to try it. Then the four dollar gas prices spurred even more of it," says Parker. "But now we think that just giving them good quality service, even in the face of declining fuel prices, will hopefully keep them riding and riding for many years." And Parker says everywhere he goes he's bombarded with the questions "When am I going to get my train in my particular part of town?'" Parker says the early success of Lynx may not get the Blue Line Extension running to northeast Charlotte before its scheduled 2015 date. But it will certainly make Charlotte more competitive in securing limited federal dollars. "The success we've seen on the South corridor light rail line, we will definitely be using that as we make our application to the federal government and asking them to pay fifty percent," says Parker. The Blue Line Extension is projected to cost around 740 million dollars.