Trams returned to the streets of downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, after a 77-year absence on 14 July with the opening cityLYNX Gold line.
The Gold line is the first 2.4km (1.5-mile) segment of a planned 16km (ten-mile) streetcar system, starting from Charlotte Transportation Center – where passengers can interchange with the Blue line LRT system – and running via Trade Street to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center with six stops.
The current fleet comprises two Gomaco-supplied replica heritage streetcars – a third was damaged in an accident with an SUV shortly after opening – with services running every 15 minutes in the peaks and at 20 minutes at other times, from 06.00 to 23.00 on weekdays (midnight on Fridays), 08.00 to midnight on Saturdays and 09.00 to 19.00 on Sundays. Travel is free. Powered by overhead catenary, the air-conditioned streetcars have an operating speed of 26km/h (16mph).
Gold line construction began in December 2012 and cost USD37m, with almost USD27m coming from an FTA Urban Circulator grant and the remainder provided by the city. Construction of Phase 2 is scheduled to begin in late 2016, extending the route at both ends by a total of 4km (2.5 miles) to French Street in the west and to Sunnyside Avenue in the east with 11 stops. Passenger service is due to begin in late 2019.
Subsequent construction could eventually bring the Gold line to 16km (two miles) in length, with CATS (Charlotte Area Transit System) planning to replace the Gomaco rolling stock with modern vehicles when the second phase opens.