CATS is rocking even if LINK is failing…

I just happened to be reading an article today on Progressive Railroading about the increase in ridership on the Charlotte North Carolina’s CATs Light Rail Line.  They’re actually looking at extending platforms to handle larger trains because of this increase!  That’s great news for that area and future expansions.  Meanwhile in Seattle’s Sound Transit Central Link Light Rail is well below expectations, not completely failing, but very close to it.  It makes me curious, as to what the excuse is for Seattle’s Light Rail line.  Anyone have any notions on that?  If anything bode well for success it was the Seattle areas’ pro-transit populace vs. Charlotte’s anti-transit populace (of course in and out of cities these populations change, but generally each city has a reputation for these things…)

…so, any thoughts?


    1. It’s not THAT relative though. 15k in Charlotte is MASSIVE. 18k for Central Link is … well … pathetic. Seattle should and could do better. 15k for Charlotte is outright shocking.

      Just sayin’ 😉

      Also Central Link Light Rail is setup with 3 car stations, because it is supposed to have in excess of 26k per day or something, Charlotte planned for 2 car trains which…

      Well, simply put, Portland’s MAX Trains blow past both of these records easily, even with the worse performing line (Which I think is still the Yellow Line). The Yellow line blows through 12-15k people a day for sure. The green at 18-22k, The red I don’t remember, and the Blue blows past 30k on most days.

      But I digress… Charlotte is doing well and I applaud their efforts. Seattle really needs to bone up on figuring out how to connect and attract ridership. Especially since they are well below estimations, that were supposed to be conservative. 😦


  1. Adron, isn’t it possible that Charlotte the is the aberration and not Seattle? It’s quite possible that Seattle simply hasn’t reached critical mass yet. In my memory of MAX, for example, wasn’t all that exciting to the region until it reached Hillsboro, and it was only then that system expansions and ridership began to get impressive.

    Also, Seattle has great commuting options in similar corridors to Central Link, thanks to ST’s express busses and to Sounder. Portland does not have commuting modes to compete with MAX, and it was a common practice of TriMet to remove lines from the bus system that might pirate off MAX, especially on the Westside extension and the Yellow Line. In short I think Central Link is likely not getting as much share of the commuter market as MAX does.


    1. Well, both of the events are kind of the aberrations.

      Seattle is a fairly pro-transit town (more of the “we want transit so others will take it and we’ll drive”, but still pro-transit).

      Charlotte however is not in a pro-transit area of the country, I’m actually somewhat amazed they were progressive enough (and I don’t mean that in a leftist Democrat way) to get light rail built in the city. Even though Charlotte in my opinion is the gem of the entire south.


  2. Charlotte has benefitted from major reconstruction around the line just *before* the recession hit.

    Seattle kind of opened at the worst possible time. It’s also not the ideal route; U-Link and North Link were pegged as the ideal route by the planners. IIRC, the *original* estimates for Central Link numbers were for Central Link as an addition to North Link…. and those three-car stations will probably prove much more useful when people can ride straight to the University, Northgate, etc.

    Also, the airport station opened six months after the rest of the system…

    I think Link will do OK, especially now that U-Link is under construction.


    1. Absolutely Nathanael, I have no doubt. Just pointing out the disparaties between the two, and the ironic twists of fate that have positioned each.

      I’d love to have seen them open north link first, would have been a much smarter move. Get the u-district hooked up and the youth so they can stop following the stupid car culture of their parents. 🙂


  3. The problem I see with the Central Link, is that it doesn’t really go where people want to go on a day-to-day basis (other than downtown). It goes to the airport, which is great, but a bit slow, the ballparks – again awesome, but not daily destinations. There’s the Tukwila park & ride which is fine, but really everything along that line is a bit desperate-looking. I’m not really familiar with the area so much though. Going to the U will be absolutely HUGE in my opinion, as will a stop in Capitol Hill, which will rock. If you look at Portland’s MAX system (decent, not great) you could imagine if the Yellow line stopped in the heart of the Mississippi District, the center of Alberta… Or if there were lines that hit Belmont, Hawthorne… place that people want to go… with a circle line to fill in and connect the hub and spoke layout so you could go from Hollywood directly to Hawthorne. I mean when Wallingford and Fremont centers are connected with the U, Capitol hill, Belltown, Ballard, then you will see some real ridership. Just my thoughts having lived in both cities. One favorites still is Prague, with 25 or so streetcar lines and 3 metro lines, and starting a 4th. But they have the distinction of being a highly walkable city as well. In a week I’ll spend one week in Amsterdam, my darling favorite. Now that’s a city with options 🙂 5 metro lines, 16 tram lines, near picture perfect walkability, and a near-perfect bikeway network. In fact you can ride to nearly any town anywhere in the country on a bike path. Fucking amazing. Okay sorry for the long drunk post 3 months late 🙂


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