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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Mayor Says Transit Could Shut Down If COVID-19 Cases Surge

Some riders on Lynx Blue Line trains are wearing masks these days.
David Boraks
Some riders on Lynx Blue Line trains are wearing masks these days.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles says the city could shut down public transit if there's a surge of COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.  The mayor raised that possibility during a virtual Q&A session Friday morning, but stopped short of saying anything definitive.

"At some point, there might be a chance that we have to stop public transportation during the surge. So I don’t have an answer that’s yes or no. I have an answer that we’re going to continue to look at it carefully, and we’ll always address any update and change as it’s needed," Lyles said. 

The mayor’s comments come as the number of confirmed cases in Mecklenburg County continues to rise. 

CATS said in a statement: "CATS is an essential service and we will operate a modified schedule until further notice. CATS continues to evaluate the situation while being mindful of the health and well-being of our operators and the public."

CATS already has cut transit service by about half as demand has fallen and the threat from the coronavirus has widened. As of March 31, ridership was down 52% from the beginning of March. 

CATS CEO John Lewis said two weeks ago that the closing of schools and businesses was reducing demand.   At the time, he said CATS' finances should be adequate to carry it through at least the end of the fiscal year. 

CATS does have a $30 million reserve fund, but he said then that he doesn't expect to tap that right now. 

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