CATS unveils new Sprinter service | CLT Blog

CATS unveils new Sprinter service

Posted on 21 Aug 2009 by James Willamor

Sprinter enhanced bus

photo: James Willamor; view this photo on Flickr

Thursday evening CATS unveiled to the public its new Sprinter Enhanced Bus Service at their West Service Center on Wilkinson Blvd. The new service will replace the current #5 route that runs from Uptown to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

The Sprinter service will use five new hybrid-electric buses on the eight mile route. This new service will increase the frequency of buses and decrease the travel time between the airport to Uptown.

Photos, a map, and probably more information than you care to know about the Sprinter service after the fold:

Sprinter interior

photo: James Willamor; view this photo on Flickr

  • The five new Sprinter hybrid-electric buses get approximately 50% better fuel economy than regular buses.
  • The Sprinter bus interiors offer more space for passengers carrying luggage.
  • Morning through evening frequency will be increased to every 20 minutes versus every 30 minutes with the old route #5 service. Night and weekend frequency will be increased to every 30 minutes verus every hour with the old service.
  • Travel time between the airport and the Charlotte Transportation Center will decrease from between 25 to 29 minutes to between 21 to 23 minutes.
  • The number of stops will decrease from 36 to 17. The goal was to select the most heavily used stops and space the stops evenly along the route.
  • Each stop along Morehead St and Wilkinson Blvd will feature a new bus shelter unique to Sprinter. Each shelter will feature a route banner similar to those on LYNX stations. They will also feature pedestrian lighting, a trash can, and will include public art. The shelters will more closely resemble those along the LYNX Blue Line than current bus shelters.
  • The Sprinter buses will not stop inside the Charlotte Transportation Center; instead the stop will be located on Brevard St beside the center. A bus shelter twice as long as the others will be located at this stop.
  • Three key stops — Charlotte Transportation Center, Ashley Road, and the airport — will feature electronic variable message signs with real time schedule information.
  • Fare will be the same as for the current local route at $1.50 each way.
  • The 2030 transportation plan includes streetcar service along Morehead St and Wilkinson Blvd to the airport, but this project is not scheduled to be built for 15 to 20 years.
  • According to, “CATS is planning to invest $1.3 million for station improvements. Each of the hybrid buses costs $530,000 — about 50 percent more than for a ‘clean diesel’ bus.”
  • CATS has not given a date the new service will start — it is still listed as “Fall 2009.” The Sprinter service could be expanded replace other popular routes in the future.

View CATS Sprinter route in a larger map

photos: James Willamor; view this slideshow on Flickr


  1. ShKira 21 Aug 2009 at 11:06 AM

    I salute them using hybrid technology. Unfortunately the people that rely on public transit the most still have to transfer several times to get to any location not on the hub/spoke line. While I am glad for the good upper-class folk that can get to/fro CLTDouglas this does not help the single mother traipsing with her children on 3 buses to her minimum wage job. Ride the a local route between 4:00pm and 6pm from uptown in the summer. The buses are overcrowded and in poor working order. Why the transit caste system CATS? Meanwhile people who pay little or no taxes in Meck County are ferried in air conditioned luxury buses to the Exurbs in Concord or Union County. These are people with good jobs whose bus passes are also subsidized by their employers. I am guessing Bojangles does not offer this benefit to their fry cooks.

  2. Avatar of James Willamor
    James Willamor 21 Aug 2009 at 11:33 AM

    ShKira, thanks for the comment. As a frequent rider of the #22 agree that local service needs to be improved. There are only two local buses that are hybrid.

    However, I do think this new service will be a good improvement to local service along this route. I think the Sprinter service will be not only a benefit to travelers coming from the airport, but also to those who live or work in Ashley Park, Westley Heights, along Wilkinson Blvd and those who connect to the #5 via community circulator.

    First, the service along route #5 will be quicker and more frequent.

    Second, new lights and shelters are being built all along Morehead St and Wilkinson Blvd. A CATS rep I spoke with said while the two busiest stops are the airport and CTC, but third busiest it Ashley Rd at Wilkinson. CATS decided to also include an electronic schedule message board at this stop as well as both ends of route.

    I have to give credit to CATS for working with the neighborhoods along the route when redesigning. I hope they will work to improve other local routes as well in the future.

  3. Danilo Loor 21 Aug 2009 at 2:37 PM

    Great move by CATS! Are there any plans to use more of these buses in other transited lines, like 11 (UNC Charlotte)? What’s the update on the Blue Line extension to the university?

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