Riders surprised to learn of parking fee along LYNX Blue Line Extension

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For the first time, the LYNX Blue Line Extension ran during the morning rush hour Monday.

Thousands of people used the light rail route, which runs from uptown to UNC Charlotte, during the opening weekend -- and even more people rode it to work Monday.

[READ MORE: Riders get first impression of LYNX Blue Line Extension]

Between 6:30 a.m. and 8:45 a.m., trains will run every eight minutes. They will also run every eight minutes between 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. daily.

Some riders were surprised to find a significant charge tied to their trip Monday.

A CATS spokesperson told Channel 9 that riders will eventually have to pay to park at the JW Clay and the University City Boulevard parking decks.

It all depends on the type of light rail ticket riders buy. A day pass ticket for $6.60 or a ticket of a higher price means riders won't have to pay a parking fee.

However, a ticket purchased of lesser value, like a round trip ticket for $4:40, will cost you $10 when you leave the lot.

“I was looking online and it said all the stations that had the parking were free so I thought the University and JW Clay would be free as well,” said Juan Gaddy.

Exiting the JW Clay or UCB parking decks without a valid pass will be treated just as fare evasion on the LYNX trains is treated.  Anyone who does not have a valid pass when leaving will be given a warning citation if it is a first offense.  If the person is already in the fare evasion database, they will receive a N.C. uniform citation that could result in a $50 fine.

It is free to park at the other 13 stations.

A CATS spokesperson said the parking fee is in place at the two stations because they don’t want UNCC students to take up all the parking spots.

CATS has made several changes to its bus service to accommodate the Blue Line Extension.

Starting Monday, people in Cabarrus County can get to the light rail without a car. The “Concord-Charlotte Express Bus Route” will run from the transit center in Concord to the new light rail station at JW Clay Boulevard in University City.

[LINK: LYNX routes and schedules]

The bus route starts a little after 5 a.m. and will run on the hour until 7:30 p.m.

[WELCOME ABOARD: Riders pack Blue Line Extension from uptown to UNCC]

Channel 9 spoke with some riders who said the Blue Line Extension is saving them lots of time.

“It’s nice, real convenient,” said Andrew Russel. “No traffic lights, that's the best thing. And it’s a one shot.”

Overall, the first few days of the Blue Line Extension have been a success, but it is something drivers will have to get used to.

[RELATED: New Blue Line Extension causes confusion at light rail crossings]

CATS said the number one issue they're worried about is motorists being confused by the crossing gates, and engineers will monitor intersections for at least the first month before making any necessary changes.

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