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CATS, Lyft Partner To Discount Rides For Some Light Rail Passengers

Julie Rose

Charlotte Area Transit System says it’s partnering with ride-hailing service Lyft for passengers who are too far away from two of its light rail stations.

CATS will contribute $4 toward passenger fares as part of the "First Mile / Last Mile Partnership" pilot program for trips originating or departing from the JW Clay/ UNC Charlotte station and the Parkwood station near NoDa.

The two stations were selected to “fill gaps” in the current transit network and “provide better access” to the light rail for transit riders whose closest station are part of underserved neighborhoods, according to a CATS statement.

CATS Executive Director John Lewis called the program an “innovative and cost-effective way” to meet current transportation needs.

“It provides a good alternative in certain areas where it is not cost-effective to operate a route with multiple buses running all day,” Lewis said.

Partnering with ride-hailing apps like Lyft allows CATS to meet demands when they arise instead of spending money to develop new routes, CATS said.

The first way that customers can participate in the program is by having a Lyft account and then purchasing a local monthly pass through the CATSPass mobile app. Through this method, CATS will contribute to up to 40 trips to and from the two stations.

The second way requires customers to have a valid CATS pass and enter a station code into their Lyft app. Customers who choose to do this will receive contributions for two trips per month.

Lauren Pelletier, the Market Manager for Lyft in Charlotte, said this program points to future innovations in transportation.

“By identifying multi-modal solutions to transportation challenges, we can have a better impact on the future of our cities,” Pelletier said. “Pilots like this one show the potential for private-public partnerships that provide affordable, convenient and reliable transportation.”

CATS is also partnering with mobile app developer Passport to launch the program. Passport is the developer of the CATSPass app.

Lyft launched a similar partnership with the transportation system in Pheonix in 2017. 

The program is expected to run through late fall of this year, CATS said.

Jessa O’Connor was an assistant digital news editor and Sunday reporter for WFAE.