Your Guide to Riding the Light Rail

August 23, 2019 11:10 am

“Just hop on the light rail.”

Charlotte’s light rail service, the LYNX Blue Line, runs 18 miles across metro Charlotte: southwest from 1-485 at South Boulevard to northeast at UNC Charlotte’s Main Campus. The 26 stations along the route are densely spaced, there are 11 stations with free parking and the trains operate from early morning to late at night. Sound good so far?

Ease your way into Uptown for date night or that cool festival happening in South End. Or head to a brewery with a responsible, affordable ride. Even take the kids on a public-transit adventure. All are excellent reasons to consider the Blue Line.

Tips for a smooth ride:

  1. Use the apps. The CATS Pass app for mobile ticketing means paying for your ride is super convenient. Purchase and activate your pass (or passes for the whole family) on the go (just make sure your phone’s battery life is reliable). Pro tip: The iCatch LYNX app provides train arrival and departure times.

  2. Take advantage of free parking. The garage at the 7th Street Public Market offers the first 90 minutes free to patrons who validate inside. To park and ride from farther afield, choose one of the stations with free parking lots or decks. The Sugar Creek Station, for example, has four covered, well-lighted levels of parking spaces

  3. Enjoy a clean, climate-controlled ride. The trains are well-maintained and provide a nice source of A/C on a summer scorcher and a dry ride if it sprinkles. Plus the platforms all have shelters to shield you from rain.

  4. Find necessary amenities and retail nearby. No need to worry about a kid’s sudden need for a bathroom (facilities are super close at 7th Street Public Market or First Ward Park). Or feeling parched (beverage vending is on every platform). Or realizing you forgot the sunscreen (find a CVS at the CTC Station or Whole Foods at Stonewall).

  5. Navigate your way. In addition to station maps on every platform, each neighborhood provides signs and graphics to orient you to the surrounding streets. Plus, platform PAs, in Spanish and English, announce arriving trains and safety instructions.

With reasonable rates and reliable service, light rail transit is proving itself as a competitive alternative to driving in the Queen City. Click here to explore other transportation options in and around Center City.

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