Bringing Light Rail to Charlotte


At a Glance

  • Client(s)
  • Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS)
  • Project Location(s)
  • Ambler / Philadelphia, Charlotte
LTK-designed railcarSuccess builds on success as Charlotte exceeds all ridership expectations. 

LTK initially assisted CATS’ effort to bring a light rail system to Charlotte, N.C., with a vehicle procurement of 16 light rail vehicles (LRVs), plus four additional option vehicles for the South Corridor. The new Blue Line Extension, currently under construction, will add 9.3 miles of track running north from Uptown to UNC-Charlotte and will be supported by 22 additional LRVs.

The LTK team explored various options for a joint procurement with other transit systems developing light rail systems and ensured that the new system would be compatible with an existing vintage trolley system that runs on two miles of the downtown corridor. LTK developed technical specifications, cost estimates, and commercial terms and conditions for both LRV procurements. LTK also assisted CATS with the LRV procurement process, including the technical evaluation of the proposals, negotiations with the carbuilder, and final evaluation of carbuilder’s best and final offers.  Finally, LTK assessed the suitability of the vintage trolley fleet to meet the more stringent demands of daily operation in conjunction with the light rail transit (LRT) system.

Early ridership numbers were well above expectations, and CATS extended LTK’s contract to assist with the acquisition of four option cars from Siemens to meet demands.  These option cars were delivered in early 2010.

The CATS Blue Line has been recognized nationally as one of the most successful new light rail operations.  With the fleet averaging 93% availability and on-time performance exceeding 98%, CATS has achieved average weekday ridership levels ranging between 14,000 and 15,000 passengers per day — figures not originally projected to be reached until 2030.

LTK Capabilities Used on This Project