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Press Release

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Jean Leier (704) 432-0496

RAPID TRANSIT PLAYS KEY ROLE IN CHARLOTTE'S SPECIAL EVENTS

Charlotte, N.C., June 14, 2010 - Charlotte just completed its busiest month of high-profile events ever, including the National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meeting, which attracted over 70,000 attendees.  Ridership during the NRA Convention was 12 percent more than during the same week in May 2009.  "Our members loved Charlotte, especially the friendliness and helpfulness of the people," said Jim Land, NRA Secretary.  "We selected hotels near the LYNX Blue Line so our members could use it to travel between locations.  Our event was fabulous and we broke about every record from previous conventions."

With thousands of visitors pouring into Center City Charlotte, many using public transportation for the very first time, convenient and accessible rapid transit was essential in moving visitors and everyday commuters around the Queen City.  "This past May was most likely the Charlotte area's largest month in hospitality industry history in terms of economic impact.  From the Quail Hollow Championship in late April to the NASCAR Hall of Fame grand opening and all the NASCAR races and events combined in May, as well as the National Rifle Association convention, the UltraSwim competition and more, we believe the numbers will be several hundred million.  In all planning efforts surrounding these events, transportation via the LYNX Blue Line was continually discussed.  From outlying hotels, parking areas and residential developments along the line, we knew we could rely on not only the ease of transportation for the event attendees, but also knew that the LYNX would help us prevent what could have been enormous traffic congestion," said Tim Newman, CEO of the Charlotte  Regional Visitors Authority.
          
May ridership on the LYNX Blue Line was up nine percent over the same time in 2009 with over 450,000 passenger trips.  Since Charlotte's first light rail line opened in November 2007 it has exceeded ridership projections. "In our first year of service we already surpassed the anticipated weekday daily ridership for 20 years into the future," said Carolyn Flowers, CEO of CATS.  "Since we have had such great success we are looking at extending our platforms on the existing Blue Line to accommodate additional trains for our customers.  We are also planning on operating three-car trains on the future LYNX Blue Line Extension due to the high ridership we've experienced."  More than 12.5 million trips have been taken on the light rail to date.

CATS purchased four additional light rail vehicles to manage its success.  Two of those cars were in use in May with the other two coming on line shortly.  "The two extra vehicles allowed us to run two-car trains every 7.5 minutes during the busiest times of large events," Flowers said.  LYNX Blue Line is the safest new-start light rail system in the country in recent history. CATS light rail system has an on-time performance of 99 percent and only one preventable accident in over two and a half years of operations.

"Our investment in LYNX differentiates Charlotte. Like all of our Center City investments, it strengthens our city on multiple levels by improving access to employees, destination assets and our Convention Center and Arena. We have hosted 25 cities in the past two years to tell the story of our rapid transit system, and how we have maximized our investment.  We must continue to build upon this sustainable and defining advantage for our community," said Michael J. Smith, President and CEO Charlotte Center City Partners.

Light rail continues to be a catalyst for development in Charlotte.  Projected new development along the line is expected to reach $1.45 billion by 2013.  Additional tax revenue generated by this development is estimated at $18.8 million for the city and county. These additional tax revenues can be invested in police, fire, education, roads and other non-transit related programs.

To learn more about the CATS and rapid transit planning, call 704-336-RIDE (7433) or visit us on the web at www.ridetransit.org.