The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced an agreement to provide Charlotte, N.C.-based Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) with $580 million to extend the LYNX Blue Line light rail system from downtown Charlotte to the city’s University of North Carolina campus. The new extension will effectively double the length of the system so that thousands more residents and students in the rapidly growing region can conveniently access light rail.
Over the last decade, Charlotte, home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, has grown faster than any other urban area with a population of one million or more, according to the U.S. Census. Light rail ridership has mirrored that growth, far exceeding expectations with more than 19 million riders since the line opened in 2007, and more than 15,000 riders on an average weekday.
“We continue to support Charlotte’s efforts to develop a public transportation system that works for everyone,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff, who was in Charlotte to announce the funding agreement along with Congressman Mel Watt, Mayor Anthony Foxx and local officials.
The 9.3 mile LYNX Blue Line light rail extension will add service along what will become an 18.6-mile corridor in Northeast Charlotte and will help to reduce congestion along Interstate 85 and US 29, where commercial and residential growth is expected to continue.
The $580 million federal share of the $1.2 billion project is provided to the CATS through FTA’s Capital Investment (New Starts) Program. The remaining cost is covered by state and local funding.