Chancellor Philip L. Dubois joined several UNC Charlotte students including student body president Tracey Allsbrook, elected officials and Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) leadership for a preview ride on the LYNX Blue Line Extension Wednesday, Nov. 8. Expected to open in March 2018, the light rail extension will connect UNC Charlotte to uptown Charlotte via a 22-minute ride to UNC Charlotte Center City on any one of the 103 trains that will arrive on campus each day.
“This ride was only possible with the leadership and vision of more than three decades of work by our city, state and national leaders, as well as strong support from the community. We are thankful for their vision,” said Dubois. “I was thrilled to ride the train with several of our student leaders. These students, and all students coming after them, will benefit greatly from the opportunities light rail brings to easily connect to the vibrant center of Charlotte, including access to businesses, social and cultural activities.”
When Dubois arrived at UNC Charlotte in 2005, local leaders, including then-Mayor Pat McCrory and then-CATS CEO Ron Tober, urged him to consider bringing light rail onto campus. The potential ridership provided by the growing campus was critical to qualify for federal funding. Light rail also aligned with the University’s vision to increase public access to campus and student opportunities in Charlotte, strengthen industry ties to research and academic programs, reduce increasing demand for parking and spur economic development and enhanced quality of life along the light rail line.
Dubois worked with University and CATS staff to find an alignment that would allow for easy access without disrupting the core of campus. Two stations will serve the main campus. The first stop at J.W. Clay Boulevard and N. Tryon Street (J.W. Clay/UNC Charlotte Station) will provide easy access to Jerry Richardson Stadium, the Charlotte Engineering Early College and the dedicated industry-partnership facility PORTAL (Partnership, Outreach and Research to Accelerate Learning). The second stop (UNC Charlotte Main Station) is on the north end of campus, across from Wallis Hall. This is the final stop along the extension and will allow access to the center of campus. Upgraded features, such as the CATS all-access pass, a new bike share program and an enhanced bus service, will easily move light rail riders throughout campus.
“Quite simply, without Chancellor Dubois’ leadership and vision to partner with CATS, the Blue Line Extension would not have been possible,” said John Lewis, CATS CEO. “I look forward to seeing the trains full of UNC Charlotte students – our future workforce – traveling through the city. And I look forward to riding the train to cheer on the Charlotte 49ers.”
Students will have unlimited access to CATS LYNX light rail, the streetcar, Special Transportation Service (STS) and local and express bus routes for $25/semester, which will be included in each student’s Miscellaneous Transportation Service Charge. Faculty and staff can purchase the same access for $75 per year.