Charlotte City Council approves smartcard fareboxes for CATS buses

Ramsey, Nicole

Corporate Communications & Marketing

​CHARLOTTE, NC (March 28, 2016) - Charlotte City Council voted Monday to approve a contract to replace fareboxes on the Charlotte Area Transit System’s (CATS) buses and to implement new smartcard and mobile payment technology that will improve passenger payment options.

Today’s customers rely on smartcard and smart phone payment options.  Seventy percent of millennials and Gen-Xers use smart phones for payment options.  Nearly 50 percent of CATS riders, represented by millennials and Gen-Xers, desire smartcard and mobile payment technology along with the existing cash and magnetic pass options.  As the smartcard system phases in, new features will allow passengers to use reloadable fare cards, activate passes through their smart phones or load transit passes on existing cards such as student ids or bank cards. The system will also issue change cards to passengers when they use $5 or $10 bills. 

CATS’ Blue Line Extension will install Ticket Vending Machines (TVM) in 2017, and CATS plans to replace the existing LYNX Blue Line TVMs with the same equipment in 2017 and 2018 both of which support smartcards and are compatible with the new fareboxes.

The current farebox system was purchased in 1998 and supports 316 fixed-route CATS buses.  The fareboxes exceeded their useful life and sometimes cause equipment outages.

Other Council Actions

Military Construction Cooperative Agreement
Staff Contact:  Jason Helton
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD)

CMPD’s firing range at the Police and Fire Training Academy will undergo expansion and improvements as part of a partnership with the North Carolina Air National Guard. The range, which has not been expanded in 15 years, will accommodate 40 percent CMPD officers. The partnership will reduce the commute for training of Air National Guard soldiers from 350 miles to five miles. The National Guard Bureau will contribute $150,000 and CMPD will fund $20,000.

City Manager’s Report

Drinking Water Quality
Staff contact: Barry Gullet
Charlotte Water

Charlotte Water staff presented information on water quality to City Council including steps taken to ensure water quality, proposed changes to water treatment and construction needed to improve the water system. Charlotte Water makes water treatment changes to adapt to variations in source water and new regulations while ensuring reliable, high quality drinking water. The change involves use of a different chemical treatment (orthophosphate/polyphosphate blend) to control corrosion which will help reduce the pH level of the water. The department is also reducing potential issues by replacing or rehabilitating old pipes through the Community Investment Program (CIP.)

Dinner Briefing Items

Charlotte Entrepreneur Growth Report
Staff Contact: Holly Eskridge
Neighborhood & Business Services

Council members received an update from Dave Jones, chairman and CEO of Peak 10, and past-chairman of the Charlotte Regional Fund for Entrepreneurship (CRFE) on the Charlotte Entrepreneur Growth Report which provides an evaluation of the region’s rapidly growing entrepreneurship community. Key findings from the report include:

  • Charlotte ranked as No. 25 in the nation’s 40 largest markets by the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship measuring overall startup activity.
  • Surveyed companies experienced a 23 percent average revenue growth rate in 2014 and an expected revenue growth rate of 44 percent in 2015.
  • 82 percent of Mecklenburg adults consider startup companies important to a strong economy, and 59 percent agree that the business climate is good for entrepreneurial companies.
  • Some areas of improvement include increasing the number of startup companies and strengthening Charlotte’s innovation capacity.


The City of Charlotte provides services to more than 800,000 residents. The City’s focus areas are Housing and Neighborhood Development, Community Safety, Transportation, Economic Development and the Environment. For the latest news about city government, visit the Citywide Newsroom. From our website, you can sign up to receive email updates on City topics that interest you through the Notify Me service.