What to Know About Light Rail Transit in the Charlotte Light Rail System

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On Thursday, August 26, 2021, the CityLYNX Gold Line was testing along West Trade Street and North Bruns Avenue in West Charlotte. CATS will suspend streetcar and light rail services on November 13 and 14 for routine maintenance.

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With tracks stretching just over 19 miles through Charlotte, light rail transit is a popular mode of transportation for professional commuters and for people attending festivals, concerts, and sporting events.

If you’re new to the area and curious about Charlotte’s transit system, you’ll want to read the answers to these common questions before your first ride:

Where will the light rail take me?

Unlike subway rail systems such as Chicago and New York, light rail riders can expect a fairly straightforward ride on the main blue line. The Charlotte Light Rail is considered a north-south route with stationary stations in both directions. That means no transfers are required for your ride — ever. The line begins at the I-485/South Boulevard station and ends at the UNC Charlotte station.

Where and when can I ride?

The blue line operates seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m., but you should make sure to check the train schedule as arrival times depend on the station you are at. Opening hours are subject to change. Although the line only runs in two directions, riders can hop on the light rail at either of these 26 stops around Charlotte:

LYNX I-485 Station*

LYNX Sharon Road West Station*

Arrowood* LYNX Station

LYNX Archdale Station*

LYNX Tyvola Station*

Woodlawn LYNX Station*

LYNX Scaleybark Station*

Bern New Station

LYNX Boulevard East/West Station

Bland Street Station

LYNX Carson Station

Stonewall Station

3rd Street Station

CTC Station/Arena

7th Street Station

9th Street Station

Parkwood Station

25th Street Station

36th Street Station

Sugar Creek Station*

Old Concord Road Station*

Tom Hunter Station

Station Boulevard de la Cité Universitaire*

McCullough Station

JW Clay Boulevard Station*

Charlotte UNC Station

*Stations with parking reserved for users

How much does it cost?

Fares and passes to ride the light rail vary by age and accommodation. Driving without paying is strictly prohibited and could result in a fine, according to The City of Charlotte. Children under 5 travel free. Here is a complete summary of fares and passes for passengers:

One way

  • Adult — $2.20
  • Seniors 62+ — $1.10
  • Disabled ADA – $1.10
  • K-12 students — $1.10

Round trip

  • Adult — $4.40
  • Seniors 62+ — $2.20
  • Disabled ADA – $2.20
  • K-12 students — $2.20

Unlimited day trips

  • Adult — $6.60
  • Seniors 62+ — $6.60
  • Disabled ADA – $6.60
  • K-12 students — $6.60

Unlimited weekly trips

  • Adult — $30.80
  • Seniors 62+ — $30.80
  • Disabled ADA – $30.80
  • K-12 students — $30.80

Unlimited monthly rides

  • Adult — $88.00
  • Seniors 62+ — $44.00
  • Disabled ADA – $44.00

Blue line, red line and golden line

When looking for information on the Charlotte Area Transit System or LYNX, you may come across other lines such as the Red Line or the Golden Line. It is important to understand that these lines are not alternative light rail lines, but rather alternative modes of public transport.

For example, the red line is a bus line that replaced plans for a commuter passenger train. The Gold Line is a streetcar line or the equivalent of a modern streetcar. Plans to add another LYNX light rail line called the Silver Line have been proposed. This proposed line runs 29 miles to 29 stations in east and west directions across Mecklenburg County.

Evan Santiago is a reporter for the Charlotte Observer and writes for the publication’s Service Journalism Desk. He is originally from New York and is currently based in Queen City where he works to help local readers with the challenges that come with everyday life in the modern world.

Jose P. Rogers