The Launch of North Carolina’s First Major Rapid Rail Service

November 24, 2007

The Lynx Blue Line first went into service in Charlotte, North Carolina. This light rail line, which is owned and operated by the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), made history as the first major rapid rail service in the Tar Heel State.

On the day of Lynx’s formal debut, CATS allowed all passenger to ride on those trains for free. Those taking part in the dedication ceremony for this line included Pat McCrory, who served as mayor of Charlotte from 1995 to 2009 and subsequently became governor of North Carolina; and Ron Tober, chief executive of CATS. (Tober retired from that position by the end of 2007.)

In an interview with the Charlotte Observer a decade after Lynx began operations, Tober recalled the larger-than-anticipated number of people who showed up for the light rail service’s inauguration. “I knew we would have some people, I never expected us to have what we had – the estimate was somewhere around 100,000 people,” said Toberc during that interview. “Frankly, when I was down there, and riding the trains, and seeing people, it brought tears to my eyes.”

At around 10:00 that morning, the first train to make a full run on the line was operated by a one-time New York City bus driver named Harry Ruiz. “The Lynx Blue Line is a new chapter in Charlotte’s rail history,” reported that day’s edition of the Charlotte Observer. As this article further noted, the city’s fledgling light rail route was launched nearly seven decades after Charlotte’s streetcar system had been phased out in favor of buses.

Lynx now covers 19.3 miles (31.1 kilometers) between the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a section of South Boulevard that is just north of Interstate 485. This line encompasses a total of 26 stations.

Photo Credit: Patriarca12 at English Wikipedia (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license at

For more information on the Lynx Blue Line, please check out

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