Charlotte Airport Trains (CLT)
Charlotte Douglas International Airport is found in the state of North Carolina, and just west of Charlotte city. It is the eleventh busiest airport in the United States for passenger traffic, handling just under forty million passengers per annum, and is the largest hub for US Airways, an important national airline carrier. The airport is also recognised by its IATA code of CLT. Although there are no Charlotte Douglas International Airport trains for ground transport, passengers can travel by bus and taxi to or from the airport, and visitors will find railway services in the city of Charlotte.
The airport of the city of Charlotte has a large terminal building that branches out to five concourses, which are referred to as the buildings A, B, C, D and E. The airport has a large number of passenger amenities, including over ninety retail shops and restaurants, services for disabled passengers, services for military personnel and their families, free Wi-Fi internet connections and banking services. Arriving and departing passengers will find everything they need within the terminal buildings of Charlotte Douglas Airport. Trains, however, are not found at the airport, only within the city. Passengers who need to travel to Charlotte will therefore use either a public or private bus service, a taxi or their own vehicles. The public bus service is operated by the company CATS, and is referred to as the Sprinter Enhanced Bus Service. It is available every twenty minutes from the Zone D Baggage Claim area.
CATS, or the Charlotte Area Transit System, is also responsible for the operation of the city’s light rail system, which is known as the LYNX Blue Line. The line is a length of 9.6 miles, and runs from the I-485 at South Boulevard to Uptown Charlotte. The light rail system of the city has fifteen stations, of which seven are park and ride facilities. The stations are found at 7th Street, the Charlotte Transportation Centre, 3rd Street, Stonewall, Carson Boulevard, Bland Street, East West Boulevard, New Bern Street, Scaleybark, Woodlawn Road, Tyvola Road, Archdale Drive, Arrowood Road, Sharon Road West and just north of the I-485 at the Pineville city limits. Most of the stations offer passengers a covered waiting area, ticket vending machines, an emergency call box, attractive features such as art work and/or fountains, automatic audio announcements, bike racks and wheelchair accessible platforms.
The LYNX Blue Line light rail system of Charlotte has been an extremely successful form of transport for city residents. Many of its riders were also people who previously did not use any form of public transportation. When the system opened in November 2007, the train was offered free of charge to help passengers familiarize themselves with the route and to promote the train service. 60,000 thousand trips where therefore made on the first day. Initially, CATS determined a ridership for the line of about 9,100 per average day, gradually increasing to 18,100 by 2025. Ridership, however, increased far more dramatically, as it saw 8,700 passengers per day in only the first few months of its service, and by the end of the first quarter of 2008, there were 18,600 people using the trains every day. The numbers rose to 22,300 riders per day, but have since dropped somewhat, to around 15,400 riders per day in 2011. Nonetheless, the Blue Line is now a vital part of the city’s public transportation services, and is regarded as the 23rd largest light rail system in the United States in terms of ridership.
To ride the LYNX train passengers must have a pass or ticket, as no cash is accepted. All tickets will also need to be date and time stamped, and therefore ten ride passes and STS yellow tickets are not accepted. Tickets are available from the vending machines on the station platforms, which also show the prices of the tickets. The ticket types available include one-way tickets, Quick tickets, a day pass, 7 day passes and round-trip passes. A one-way ticket is valid for ninety minutes and is for a trip in one direction only. A day pass is valid for one calendar day (expires midnight on the day it was purchased), and may be used on the public buses as well. A 7 day pass is valid for seven consecutive days, on bus and rail, and round-trip tickets are valid for the day they are purchased. However, the first trip away from the station will need to be completed within ninety minutes of ticket purchase. The trip back can be made at any time during the same day. Passengers can pay for their tickets in cash, or by credit card.
Ticket prices are as follows: $1.75 for a single one-way trip and $5.25 for a one day pass. A weekly pass will cost $17 and a round-trip ticket will cost $3.50. Keep in mind that tickets can be checked at any time, and citations could be issued to passengers who are found with no ticket or invalid tickets. They will also be issued to passengers who are incorrectly using their tickets, for example, travelling a round-trip with a one-way ticket.
The LYNX trains stop at all stations, therefore there is no need to flag down the train. Passengers should wait for others to exit before boarding themselves. The light rail system of CATS is completely accessible to disabled travellers, and meet or exceed all ADA requirements. The trains are all level with the platform, and therefore no ramps are required. In the trains, there are four accessible priority seating areas, and they are clearly marked with an accessibility symbol.
Although there are no Charlotte Douglas International Airport trains available for passengers, the buses and taxis provide good transport, and once in the city, the light rail system will surely be enjoyed. Further details regarding the LYNX Blue Line is available at http://www.ridetransit.org.