UNCC light rail ridership: ‘Like a broken drum’

Now when Charlotte Area Transit System director of marketing/communications and information technology Olaf Kinard describes CATS’ arrangement with UNC-Charlotte —a mandatory $25 per semester tuition fee for unlimited rides on the Blue Line extension– as a ‘broken drum,’ he means it in a good way:

Last year, CATS sold $27,000 worth of discounted passes to UNCC students and faculty. But with 23,400 undergraduates now paying for the pass – whether they use it or not – CATS will get about $1.17 million in revenue.

CATS brings in about $27 million each year in ticket revenue from the light rail and buses.

“We think it’s a great deal for everyone,” said Olaf Kinard, director of marketing/communications and information technology for CATS. “It’s like a broken drum – you can’t beat it. We get $1 million and increased ridership. That’s a good deal for us.”

But it’s unclear whether the 9.3-mile extension will be flooded with students. Will students take the train that they have already paid for – or will they use ride-sharing applications like Uber?

But the bigger question in my mind is why is the drum broken in the first place? Because you beat it to death—like the way government continues to beat mass transit. But even better is the quote from a UNCC official:

UNCC’s associate director of communications, Buffie Stephens, said the university expects about 15 to 20 percent of students to use light rail.

She said the university made the transit fee mandatory to “spread (the cost) across the student community.” She said it’s no different than fees students pay for Niner Transit, the student union, athletics and the student health center.

I’m not sure if citizens should be pleased or upset that a government entity is openly admitting –and is pleased—that they’re getting something for nothing.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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