By Greg Lacour
Charlotte Area Transit System operates its light-rail line under a compromise most light-rail operators around the world have accepted as the price of doing business: It assumes that, every now and then, people will ride the trains without paying.
That’s because of the unique qualities of light rail, designed to be fast, low-hassle and convenient for the public — especially the uptown business-class workers CATS targets — and relatively low in operating costs for transit systems.
But without turnstiles or other control systems on Charlotte’s Lynx Blue Line, CATS loses about $250 a day from fare evaders, says John Trunk, CATS’ director of transit support services.
Despite the lost revenue, CATS won’t be putting in control systems anytime soon, if it ever does. The agency, like others across the country and Europe, says keeping passengers flowing freely is both more practical and fiscally wise, even with fare evasion, than installing cumbersome and expensive turnstiles.
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