More people in the Denver area took the Charlotte Area Transit Systemâ€™s bus into the Queen City in November than in 2004, according to figures released recently.
More than 2,000 riders took the Lincoln County Express from Denver to Charlotte, a 126 percent increase over the November 2004 number of only 891 riders.
So far for fiscal year 2006, more than 9,400 riders were counted on the route, a 79 percent increase over the fiscal year 2005 figure of 5,294 riders.
â€œA rider is someone who takes a one-way trip on a CATS bus,â€ said CATS public relations manager Jean Leier.
Leier added that typically, ridership from November through February is lower than the rest of the year.
â€œHoliday vacations contribute to less ridership,â€ said Leier. â€œAlso, there are more riders when there is less precipitation and warmer temperatures.â€
The average daily ridership for the Lincoln County Express is around 101 people. The CATS park-and-ride in Denver is located at Waterside Crossing and departs at 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. daily, according to the Charlotte Area Transit website.
The typical CATS bus express rider is a white male around 39 years old. He is college educated and works a full-time job, earning an average salary of $47,270 per year.
â€œThe sample size is too small for Lincoln County,â€ said Leier. â€œThese demographics are over all six express lines.â€
The figures for the Lincoln route were over three times as high than in Mooresville, Gastonia, Rock Hill, Concord or Union County. Only neighborhood shuttles in Mecklenburg County have seen a higher ridership increase.
CATS and Lincoln County split the cost of providing the service evenly. The total cost of having the service after the fare revenue is credited is $69,046. Both parties pay $34,523 while that fare revenue is around $20,404.
County Commission Chairman Tom Anderson said when CATS pitched the idea of service to the county in 2004, everyone involved knew the service wouldnâ€™t pay for itself.
â€œThe major reason the Board of Commissioners agreed to sign on was we knew the county was in non-attainment of the ozone pollution standards,â€ said Anderson. â€œWe had to show that the things we were doing were helping to reduce ozone.â€
Anderson added that the 100-plus riders per day are reducing traffic congestion along N.C. 16 which is one success of the program.
â€œYou canâ€™t see that from looking at the number of cars, but itâ€™s starting to make a difference after a year,â€ he said.
Another success occurred in August 2004.
â€œThe ridership spiked in August,â€ said Anderson. â€œThatâ€™s when the gas prices spiked to over $3 per gallon.â€
by Jon Mayhew