During the last decade, Charlotte, North Carolina, has grown faster than any other urban area with a population of one million or more. Through those years, the city has worked hard to expand transportation options for the increasing number of people traveling area roads and transit routes to the jobs, schools, and services that attracted them to Charlotte in the first place.
Light rail ridership has mirrored the city's growth, far exceeding expectations with more than 19 million riders since the line opened in 2007 and more than 15,000 riders on an average weekday. So in 2011, DOT awarded a TIGER grant of $18 million to expand capacity on the existing LYNX Blue Line through additional power substations and extended platforms at three stations.
Now the Queen City is ready to build on its success with its next big step forward in public transit, and DOT is once again there to help.
Yesterday, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff was in Charlotte to announce a $580 million grant to extend the popular LYNX Blue Line from downtown Charlotte to the city’s University of North Carolina campus.
The new extension will effectively double the length of the system and allow more residents in the rapidly growing region convenient access to light rail. This is great news for thousands of students, who will have the option of going through school without owning a car or paying for the insurance and gas that comes with it.
And because the Charlotte Area Transit System expects the extension to create 6,000 new jobs, it's also great news for working families in North Carolina.
We know that if you build safe, reliable transit, people will ride. And Charlotte has demonstrated that as well as any region. This community has wisely placed transit at the center of its plans for smart growth, improving access to employment, medical care, and education while reducing congestion and creating jobs in the process.
The Obama Administration supports investments like these because they embody so many of the President’s goals for the nation: helping working families keep more of their money in their wallet rather than handing them over at the gas pump; lowering our dependence on foreign oil; giving our children, our seniors, and all of our citizens cleaner air to breathe; and boosting economic development and jobs.
Investments like this are vital for attracting employers and a well-educated workforce. They're part of President Obama’s vision of an America that's built to last, and DOT is happy to partner with communities like Charlotte and elected officials and business leaders from both sides of the aisle who share this vision.