Folks disembark at the 3rd Street/Convention Center light rail station in Charlotte. Davie Hinshaw dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
Folks disembark at the 3rd Street/Convention Center light rail station in Charlotte. Davie Hinshaw dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Living Here Guide

How to get around Charlotte, no car needed

By Corey Inscoe

September 03, 2017 01:04 PM

As residents continue to flood into Charlotte, the city is investing heavily in transit, extending the current light rail and streetcar lines to serve more areas.

Here’s a quick look at the major public transportation options in the area, and what you need to know about each one.

Light Rail

What: The LYNX Blue Line light rail currently stretches 9.6 miles from I-485 in southwest Charlotte to Uptown with 15 stops along the way. Charlotte Area Transit System is working on 9.3-mile extension that will take the line all the way to UNC Charlotte. It’s expected to open in March 2018.

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When: Weekday service runs from 5:26 a.m. to 1:26 a.m., with trains coming every 10 minutes during rush hour and every 15 minutes during non-peak hours. Saturday service goes until 1:56 a.m. and Sunday service goes to 12:26 a.m.

Cost: $2.20 one way and $4.40 round trip. Unlimited passes start at $6.60 for one day and $88 for monthly. Discounts available for seniors and students.

Pro tip: The light rail is perfect for game day. Get off at the Stonewall stop for a short walk to Bank of America Stadium and BB&T Ballpark, or for Hornets games, jump off at CTC station, which will put you right in front of Spectrum Center.

Learn more at RideTransit.org.

Streetcar

What: The CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar opened in 2015 and currently runs 1.5 miles from Spectrum Center Uptown to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Elizabeth. The line is being extended 2.5 miles to Johnson C. Smith University to the west and Sunnyside Avenue to the east. That extension is scheduled to open summer 2020.

When: The streetcar operates 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 6 a.m.-midnight Friday, 8 a.m.-midnight Saturday and 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. Trains are scheduled for every 15 minutes during peak hours and every 20 minutes for any other time.

Cost: Free.

Pro tip: The streetcar runs right through a foodie paradise, with Earl’s Grocery, Elizabeth Creamery, Customshop, Viva Chicken and more along the line. Hop out and grab a bite.

Learn more at RideTransit.org.

Charlotte opened streetcar service in 2015 that runs from Uptown to Elizabeth.
Jeff Siner jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Bus

What: Charlotte Area Transit System operates more than 70 bus routes that weave through Mecklenburg, Gaston, York, Cabarrus and Union counties.

When: Schedules vary, depending on the line. You can find schedules at RideTransit.org.

Cost: $2.20 one way and $88 for a monthly unlimited pass. Express buses and regional buses cost more. Discounts available for seniors and students.

Pro tip: The buses have bike racks on the front, so you can take your bike with you wherever you go at no extra cost.

Learn more at RideTransit.org.

CATS bus service runs more than 70 rotues, including an express route every 30 minutes to the Charlotte Douglas Airport.
Isabella Bartolucci ibartolucci@charlotteobserver.com

Bike share

What: With 200 bikes spread across 21 stations, B-Cycle is the largest bike share program in Charlotte. The program allows you to buy a pass and take unlimited 30-minute trips for the duration of the pass.

When: Bikes are available for checkout from 5 a.m.-midnight every day.

Cost: $8 for a 24-hour pass. $65 for an annual pass. Discounts available for students.

How it works: When you buy a pass, the first 30 minutes of each trip is free, and you can take an unlimited number of 30-minute trips for the duration of the pass. If you keep a bike checked out for longer than 30 minutes, it’s $4 for each additional 30 minutes. In short: Make sure to check your bike into a station every 30 minutes if you don’t want to get charged more.

Pro tip: For a scenic Saturday trip, check out a bike in Freedom Park and use it to cruise along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway into Uptown.

Learn more at charlotte.bcycle.com.

B-cycle station has 200 bicycles and more than 20 stations spread out around Charlotte.
Morgan McCloy mmccloy@charlotteobserver.com