​​Alternative Commutes

Riding CATS (Bus or Light Rail)  ​​Graphical image of a busGraphical image of a light rail vehicle from a head-on view

1. Plan Your Trip

You can visit to use the Transit Planner to find the bus or light rail stop closest to you and the corresponding routes at that stop. The planner also will help you find the best time point to the time you want to arrive

2. Go to Your Stop

Be at your bus stop or light rail station a few minutes early. Look at the headway sign above the windshield for the route number and name. When you see the bus approaching stand near the bus stop sign and have your fare ready.  Be sure to stand where the operator can see you.

When riding the light rail, stand at least three feet from the tactile edge of the platform. There is no need to flag down the train. In-service LYNX trains stop at every station. Wait for the train to come to a complete stop and let the doors open fully.

3. Available Park and Ride Lots

If you don't have a stop that's convenient for you, you can park at any of the many CATS Park and Rides and ride the bus or light rail.

4. Have Your Fare Ready 

Exact fare or a CATS Pass is acceptable. When riding the bus, all fares are posted on the farebox. You must have exact fare in cash/coins or a previously purchased pass, which can be a physical pass or one on your mobile phone on the CATS Pass App.

If you need a transfer, please ask the driver.  Transfers are good for 90 minutes.  They are free unless you are transferring to a connecting service whose fare is higher than the one you paid. In that case, you will need to pay the difference between the two services. 

When riding LYNX, cash is not accepted on board and you must purchase a ticket at a ticket vending machine at each station, the CATS Online Pass Sales Store or on the CATS Pass App. You must be able to show the fare inspector your active pass as soon as you enter the "fare zone" at any platform.  

5. Get on the Bus or Light Rail

Allow other passengers to exit before boarding. Generally, seating near the front is reserved for the elderly and mobility impaired passengers. You must carry on baby strollers and other small items.  Please do not block the aisles. Then, just sit back and relax!

6. Exit at Your Stop

When riding the bus, you'll need to pull a cord on the side of the bus to signal to the driver to stop at the next bus stop. You want to give the driver about a block of space. When riding the LYNX light rail, the train stops at each station and stops are announced, but please be mindful of the next stop. There are maps of the entire light rail route in multiple locations on the trains.


Charlotte Joy Rides 

1. Purchase a membership online, at any station or on the Joy Rides App.

The system offers four types of memberships, including a Flash Pass (30-minute membership), Joy Pass (24-hour membership), month and annual memberships. Any membership or pass may be purchased online (credit/debit card required).

2. Choose a bike from any Joy Rides-station

If you do not have a Joy Rides-card and have not yet purchased a membership:

  • Press the 'Start' button on the kiosk.
  • Follow the instructions on the touch screen to purchase a Flash Pass or Joy Pass.
  • When prompted, select the dock number of the bike you wish to check out.
  • The kiosk will unlock the bike from the dock you chose. The dock holding the chosen bike will beep and show a green light until the bike is removed or for about 30 seconds.

If you do not have a Joy Rides-card, but already have purchased a membership:

  • Press the 'Start' button on the kiosk.
  • Select 'No' when asked if you would like to purchase a membership.
  • Follow the prompts on the touch screen. When prompted, swipe the same credit card you bought your membership with.
  • When prompted, select the dock number of the bike you wish to check out.
    The kiosk will unlock the bike from the dock you choose


3. Grab a bike and helmet and go! 

Follow these easy steps to ensure the Joy Rides is in working order, strap on your helmet, and go!

  • The TIRES should be hard and not bulging on the pavement. Examine them for any abrasions or bubbles.
  • Check that the WHEELS spin straight and freely without rubbing against the brake pads or any other parts.
  • Try shifting to all three GEARS to make sure the chain shifts smoothly.
  • Squeeze both BRAKES to make sure they are functioning properly.
  • Adjust the SEAT height and clamp it securely so that your leg almost fully extends when the pedal is down.
  • REMEMBER: Rides of less than 30 minutes for 24-hour passes and 60 minutes for memberships incur no usage fee. For each additional 30 minutes over the initial ride time, your card will be charged $4. Hint: To avoid usage fees, dock your bike within 30 minutes and check out another to keep going!

4. Return your bike to any station!

Return your bike to any Charlotte Joy Rides station by rolling it into an available dock.

Wait for three rapid blinks of the green light and three quick beeps. That is your signal that the bike has been securely returned.



Dockless Bike Share   ​​

​​​You may have seen multiple, seemingly-abandoned bikes around town, but not known what they're for. Charlotte welcomes dockless bike share companies to provide access to dockless bikes, but how do you use them?

1. Download The Company's App

Almost all of the dockless bike share programs use an app to check out bikes and they are typically free. You can sign up through entering your phone number and the registration process will include entering in payment information.

2. Use The App to Find and Unlock a Bike

The app will use GPS tracking of the bikes to find a bike closest to you. You can tap "start" or "unlock" on the app and then place the phone near the lock when prompted. Then, hop on once it's unlocked and enjoy the ride!

3. Lock and Leave
Based on Charlotte procedure, there are particular locations in which you can "park" your bike. Ensure that it's not impeding a walkway and that it's not in an unsafe location that could cause damage to cars or pedestrians. 

Most bikes require you to manually return the bike lock to its locked position. Check the app to ensure your trip has ended. You will be charge based on the time the bike was checked out. Pricing often ranges from $1 for 30 minutes to an hour.


Zipcar (Car Sharing)     

Maybe you took public transit or carpooled to work, but you need to run an important errand or the school nurse just called and said your son has the stomach flu. Car sharing is an option for you that just came to Charlotte. Car sharing saves you hundreds over car ownership, without worrying about finding the time to get routine maintenance performed. Zipcars are cleaned and taken care of all year round.

1. Apply online 

An applicant pays a one-time $25 fee to be a part of the program when they register on the website. You can join as an individual or with an organization or university. Once approved, you'll receive a Zipcard to access vehicles. Charlotte has 12 available vehicles in Uptown and South End.

2. Reserve 

Zipcar has easy ways to reserve – your mobile device with free iPhone or Android app or online through the Zipcar website. Zipcar recommends you have your phone when you drive in case you need to extend the reservation. You can reserve the car for as little as one hour or as long as seven days, with rates starting at $9.75/hour and $79/day. All rates include gas, insurance and up to 180 miles free per day.

3. Tap

When it's time for your reservation, unlock your car using your Zipcard. The keys are inside the car.

4. Drive

Take your Zipcar wherever you want for the time you reserved. Extend in the mobile app or by text message if needed.

5. Return

Drop off your Zipcar in the designated parking spot. Lock up with the app or your Zipcard, and you're done!


Vanpool  Graphical image of a vanpool vehicle from a side view

Vanpools are a flexible and cost-effective way for groups of 5 to 15 commuters to share their ride to work. Successful vanpools include groups of people who live or work near each other and share similar commuting schedules. CATS has two vanpool options – a 7-passenger minivan or a 15-passenger van. A vanpool member will drive the vanpool and CATS will provide the vehicle's maintenance, repair and gas. Here's how you get started:

1. Check out available vanpools
Look at existing vanpools and see if there is one that's works for you and has space on the ride.

2. Fill out the vanpool form
If you find a vanpool that works for you, fill out the vanpool form here. After submitting it, you will hear from a vanpool coordinator, who will connect you with the vanpool driver.

3. Work with the Vanpool Driver
All vanpool drivers volunteer to drive the vanpool to its destination. They will help you coordinate the best pick-up and drop-off spots for the entire vanpool. A CATS Park and Ride location can be a great option for a meet-up spot. The vanpool driver will inform you of the specific monthly cost for the vanpool and will collect that cost when you get started and each month.

4. Starting Your Own Vanpool

If there aren't any available vanpools or vacant seats, you can ask the vanpool driver to place you on their waiting list or you can develop a new vanpool. Contact to reach a vanpool coordinator, who will help you start that process.




Sharing a carpool – as a driver or rider – can be a great alternative to riding along to work. However, there are no hard and fast rules on how to run a carpool. Each carpool is set up according to the schedules and preferences of its members. Carpoolers can ride as much or as little as they want. Find some fellow riders in your area through Share the Ride NC

Share the Ride NC Image of Share the Ride NC logo

Image of a Screenshot of Way2GO CLT’s Trip Planning Website with a carpool partners circled on the screen

Image of a Screenshot of Way2GO CLT’s Trip Planning Website with a commuting option circled on the screen

1. Create an account at Share the Ride NC and login.

2. You will be asked to create a "Trip Profile." Trip Profiles describe a specific trip that you take on a recurring basis. It will include origin, destination and commuting schedule. Your first trip will become your "default trip profile."

3. Go to the "Find Matches" tab and select "Find My Commute Options." This will generate a page of all the commuting options you have, including registered carpool users.

4. Select the "Carpool" tab and you will find all the registered carpoolers, who live close by and have similar commute schedules to you.

5. When you find someone you think might work as a carpooling buddy, contact them! You can work out cost and timing from there!



Have more questions about how these options? Contact for more information. ​