I’m super skeptical about this.  According to the Charlotte Business Journal, the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) allowed nine “current or potential future riders” to preview the Lynx Blue Line extension that is going to open mid-March.  And based on those nine people, the article seems to imply that the people of Charlotte love the line, that they’re going to ride it all the time, and that they’d even be willing to pay more in transit taxes to fund further expansion.

Actual data would suggest otherwise.

In late December, the Charlotte Observer ran a piece looking at CATS ridership on both buses and light rail.

In the last three years, ridership on local buses – the largest and most important part of the CATS system – has declined by more than 15 percent. In the four first months of this fiscal year the downward trend has accelerated, with ridership down 9.1 percent compared with the same period a year earlier….

But while local bus ridership has fallen, the Lynx Blue Line has fared better.

The light-rail line was down 1 percent in 2015, down 4.4 percent in 2016 and down 1.2 percent in 2017. Lynx ridership was up 1.2 percent for the first four month of this fiscal year.

So the Lynx Blue Line is the bright spot, but it’s seen ridership declines for at least the past three years, with only a potential shift starting to occur in the first four months of this fiscal year.  Does CATS realize how bad your ridership numbers across the system as a whole have to be for those Lynx Blue Line numbers to look good?
Given that the city’s spent more than a billion dollars on this project, I certainly hope it’s successful.  But I’m not holding my breath.