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North Corridor Rail Demonstration Project Proposed

Could This be Charlotte’s Future?
Light rail is coming to Charlotte. It will still be a few years before you’ll be able to ride it but we thought we would give you a preview of what you might look forward to in the future. The following article first appeared in the December 2000 Piedmont Carolinas Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society newsletter.

Ed Locklin recently visited Jersey City, NJ, where he rode the new and impressive light rail line opened last spring. This what he found.

The Hudson-Bergen light-rail line as it is known is a new state-of-the-art LRT. It is the first modern light rail transportation system to be built in New Jersey in the last 50 years. When fully completed, the 20.5-mile system will travel through the communities of Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, West New York, North Bergen and Ridgefield.

The initial 9.5-mile line now operating consists of 16 stations and operates from 34th Street in Bayonne and Hoboken Terminal, and between West Side Avenue in Jersey City and Hoboken Terminal (see map). Subsequent extentions will be made both to the north and south of the present operation. With a population of more than 600,000, this is the most densely populated region in the state. Private right-of-way is used most of the way, however there is some minimal street running. Stations are located between each of the tracks and are shared by LRT trains traveling in both directions. All stations are fully accessible with covered platforms, customer assistance phones and automated public address systems for service announcements. The fare is $1.50 and is also automated. Tickets must be validated by a validation machine at the station just prior to boarding the train. This system of fare payment is known as “Proof of Payment” (POP). There are no station ticket agents but there are “Fare Inspectors” on each train. The fare inspector will make random inspections on-board light rail trains. Passengers who do not have a valid ticket are subject to a warning or fine up to $100. Repeat offenders may be subject to criminal charges. This system, or a similar one, is being recommended for consideration here in Charlotte.

As part of the Transit Arts Program, many elements of the stations have been designed to integrate art. The artworks by local, state and nationally recognized artists reflects the culture, history and character of neighborhoods within the light rail service area. There is a large use of glass brick at each station that has been sculpted into huge cut-glass montages, each one depicting something of a local interest.

The first segment of this light rail system was built by private sector companies under a unique arrangement called DBOM--design, build, operate and maintain--which calls for them to provide up front financing of the construction costs. It is the first of its kind for public transportation in the US. In this scenario the contractor will complete the design work, construction, and then operate and maintain the system for a minimum of 15 years.

CEMT will occasionally report on other systems operating around the country, so you will have a better prospective on what to expect when our light rail system begins to operate!

February, 2001