The idiot’s guide to riding the light rail

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It’s come to our attention that some people in Charlotte have never set foot on the LYNX light rail. Well, since the line’s extension will finally open this Friday, March 16, adding 9.3 miles to the Blue Line rail route, we’ve created for you a handy dandy guide to using the train.

[Related: 12 things you need to know about the Blue Line Extension opening in March.]

Here is your idiot’s guide to the light rail:

Where is the light rail/where does it go?

With the extension, the Blue Line runs for just under 19 miles from I-485 in south Charlotte to UNC Charlotte in north Charlotte. The train cuts through neighborhoods including Yorkmont, Colonial Village, Sedgefield, South End, Uptown, NoDa and University City. It should take a passenger 45 minutes to ride from one end to the other, with 26 stops total.

The address for the I-485 station is: 9508 South Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28273

The address for the UNC Charlotte station is: 9025 Cameron Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28262

See the addresses for all stations/stops here.

How do you get to the train?

The train can be accessed via 26 stations (15 original stations, plus the 11 stations along the extension).

See the addresses for all stations/stops here.

What if I brought my car?

Seven of the original 15 stations are park and ride stations, where you can park your car for free and ride the light rail to your destination. The park and ride stations include the I-485 station, the Sharon Road West Station, and the Arrowood Station.

Four of the new 11 stations are park and ride stations. Only two are free (the Old Concord Road park-and-ride lot and the Sugar Creek deck), while the JW Clay Boulevard deck and the University Boulevard deck incur a fee.

See this page for updated station addresses, and information about which stations serve as park and rides.

What if I’m riding the bus?

Most of the stations have bus connections to various routes. See this page to confirm which bus routes stop at the various light rail stations.

What if I brought my bike?

Many of the stations have bike racks, including the UNCC station, the Parkwood Station and the 7th Street station. There is also standing room near the doors that are wide enough for bikes — so I’ve seen people carry their bikes with them. The Code of Conduct does not prohibit the carrying of bikes.

How do you get a ticket?

On the platform of each station is a TVM (Ticket Vending Machine) with a touch screen. Follow the directions on the screen to select the ticket type and pay with coins, cash or credit card.

You can also download the CATS Pass mobile app — details are here.

How much does a ticket cost?

Quick Ticket: The one-way ticket is the same as the cost of bus fare: $2.20 for an adult. Prices vary for senior/disabled riders ($1.10) and student youth ($1.10).

Round Trip pass: $4.40. Prices vary for senior/disabled riders ($2.20) and student youth ($2.20).

One-Day Unlimited Rides: $6.50.

Weekly Unlimited Rides: $30.80.

Monthly Unlimited Rides: $88. Prices vary for senior/disabled riders ($44).

Get more fare information here.


The dos and don’ts of riding the light rail

How do I buy a ticket? What do I do if the ticket vending machine is broken? Can I eat or drink on the train? Can I bring my pet on the train? CharlotteFive gives you all the dos and don’ts of riding the light rail.


What if the ticket kiosk is broken?

Call customer service at 704-336-RIDE (7433). They should be able to give you instructions on what to do next.

What are the hours of operation?

About 5 a.m.-1:30 a.m. Check the schedules to see when the final train departs from specific stations.

Once the extension opens, CATS should operate trains every 7.5 minutes during rush hour. (Historically, the trains have operated every 10 minutes during rush hour on weekdays and every 15 minutes otherwise.)

What do I do with my train ticket?

Hold onto it. While there are no turnstiles to get onto the train, there are often CATS Fare Inspectors who are riding the trains and checking tickets. Failure to show your ticket could result in a fine.

How do I know when a train is coming?

Loudspeakers at the stations announce the countdown to the train’s arrival. You can also hear the train’s whistle as it approaches.

How do I get on?

The doors will open automatically. Step off the platform and onto the train.

How do I get off?

The doors will open automatically. Step off the train and onto the platform.

If the doors don’t open automatically: Push the flashing button at the center of the doors.

What’s in the train?

Standing room and seats.

Are there rules for riders?

Yes, they include no consumption of alcohol onboard, no used of tobacco, no carrying of weapons and no spitting. See the complete Code of Conduct here.

How do I know when and where to get off?

The loud speaker on the train will announce the next stop. It will also announce when the train is stopping. Know your stop.

Consult the map at the station where you board to plan your route, or refer to the LYNX website.

What if I miss my stop?

Don’t panic. Some stations are close enough together that you can get off at the next stop and walk to your destination. Or, wait for the train that will take you back in the opposite direction.

Photo: Charlotte Observer file

4 COMMENTS

  1. When there are two different prices, not more, the prices *differ*. They don’t *vary*.
    Official Grammar Policeman signing off. 🙂

    Good article though.

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