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CATS ridership up in Denver

More people in the Denver area took the Charlotte Area Transit System’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.
“A rider is someone who takes a one-way trip on a CATS bus,” said CATS public relations manager Jean Leier.
Leier added that typically, ridership from November through February is lower than the rest of the year.
“Holiday vacations contribute to less ridership,” said Leier. “Also, there are more riders when there is less precipitation and warmer temperatures.”
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.
“The sample size is too small for Lincoln County,” said Leier. “These demographics are over all six express lines.”
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 wouldn’t pay for itself.
“The major reason the Board of Commissioners agreed to sign on was we knew the county was in non-attainment of the ozone pollution standards,” said Anderson. “We had to show that the things we were doing were helping to reduce ozone.”
Anderson added that the 100-plus riders per day are reducing traffic congestion along N.C. 16 which is one success of the program.
“You can’t see that from looking at the number of cars, but it’s starting to make a difference after a year,” he said.
Another success occurred in August 2004.
“The ridership spiked in August,” said Anderson. “That’s when the gas prices spiked to over $3 per gallon.”
by Jon Mayhew

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