With stalemate in Triangle, light rail proves to be an asset for ACC Tournament in Charlotte

March 14, 2019

Triangle leaders are still trying to figure out if the light rail project in Durham and Orange counties will ever happen, but Charlotte has been using light rail for years, and its in high demand for fans at the ACC Tournament.

Just steps from the Spectrum Center is a stop for Charlotte light rail trains. Fans visiting the city for the ACC Tournament found the mode of transportation easy and affordable.

“We’re senior citizens. It costs us $2.20 round trip and yesterday it cost us $20 to park,” said Fran Parlett

Michael Wooden and Rhonda Haston are from Philadelphia, where they are used to riding trains to get from point A to point B.

“The hotel recommended it and said it was safe and easy to get here, so that’s why we took it,” Haston said.

Stephen Roberts of Hillsboro isn’t fully sold on the light rail back in Orange County, but as a North Carolina State University fan in Charlotte for the tournament, he’s taking advantage of the train.

“It got us down here to the game today, and it was really a nice way to get into town because parking is a premium downtown,” he said

The rail lines in Charlotte opened in 2007 and Queen City business leaders said mass transportation has helped to attract more companies to the area.

Funding from the state accounted for about 25 percent of the multi-billion dollar project, about three times more than what is expected for the proposed light rail project in the Triangle.

The Charlotte light rail system operates over about 10 miles and it’s extra busy with the ACC Tournament in town. People who live in the city said they would highly suggest a similar system for other cities.

“Should have been here a long time ago. It’s a great asset. This is the way to go to cut down on the traffic,” Charlotte resident Rodger Pulpus said.

The GoTriangle board will meet again on March 27 to discuss the stalemate with Duke University, who has said the proposed route it “unworkable,” and the future of the light rail project in Orange and Durham counties.