CATS to extend LYNX Blue Line rush-hour frequency by 90 seconds

CATS
2/18/2020

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CATS to extend LYNX Blue Line rush-hour frequency by 90 seconds
Light rail vehicle fleet to undergo regular mid-life maintenance overhaul


CATS will implement a solution to mitigate weekday rush-hour delays on the LYNX Blue Line this April. CATS will extend train frequency by 90 seconds from 6:30 to 8:45 a.m. and from 3:30 to 6 p.m. This means trains will now operate every 9 minutes during weekday peak service.


This will allow CATS to provide reliable, consistent, two-car-train service while conducting extensive mid-life mechanical overhauls on the original 20 light-rail vehicles the system purchased with the start of the original Blue Line in 2007. CATS has 42 vehicles in its fleet.


In early stages of operations modeling for the LYNX Blue Line Extension, the model anticipated that it would take light rail vehicles 57 minutes to make the trip from I-485/ South Boulevard Station to the UNC-Charlotte (UNCC) Station. Based on this 57-minute trip time, the model projected the number of light rail vehicles required to operate rush hour service with additional spares.


Operationally, CATS is finding that the total travel time from I-485 to UNCC is 63 minutes. This requires more trains to operate at once than originally modeled.


Initially, 7.5-minute peak-service was sustainable because of the number of spare vehicles in the light rail fleet.


As CATS enters into an extensive mid-life overhaul, along with routine preventative maintenance on 20 light-rail vehicles, there will be a decrease in the number of available vehicles making 7.5-minute rush hour service no longer viable.


Extending train frequency by 90-seconds during this peak service time will provide riders with more reliable service.


Vehicle maintenance is normal and expected, as our trains make nearly 6,000 monthly round-trips and still operate overall 98% on-time, which is well above the industry average of 88%.


CATS currently conducts daily vehicle maintenance around-the-clock, however, more extensive maintenance and repairs must occur during overnight non-revenue hours (approximately from 1:30 a.m. to 5 a.m.).


CATS currently only has the capability of conducting regular maintenance. Heavy maintenance work, such as a mid-life mechanical overhaul, is done by the manufacturer. It is expected that all 20 vehicles will complete their mid-life maintenance overhaul in the next 4 years.


CATS is in the process of identifying funding to procure more light rail vehicles as we continue to improve and build-out the system. Once funding is secured, it would take a minimum of 28 months to manufacture and test the vehicles.