Thursday, July 23, 2009

CATS survey: LRT riders not former bus users

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Debunking the oft-made claim that light rail transit systems “steal” riders from existing bus operations, and therefore offers little public benefit, North Carolina's Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) Thursday disclosed survey results finding that 72% of Lynx LRT riders are new to public transportation and hadn't used buses before.

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Among those riders surveyed who previously had traveled by means other than a single-occupant vehicle, 21% of Lynx passengers previously rode a bus, while another 6% either used a CATS vanpool or another form of carpooling.

CATS hired an outside marketing firm to survey nearly 1,000 rail riders in December and January, in an effort to determine the system’s customer market and the reasons people chose to ride LRT.

The survey found that the average Lynx rider's householdincome is $65,000, compared with $55,200 for an express bus rider and $31,800 for a regular bus rider. The median county household income is $62,241, according to CATS.