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Riding CATS

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CATS Is The Way To Go
On your way to work, school, shopping or just out for a little fun, the increasing traffic you encounter every day is evidence that Charlotte-Mecklenburg has become one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. In fact, the region is now home to more than 1.5 million people.

The good news for commuters is that CATS has kept pace with the wheels of progress. Charlotte currently operates the largest transit system between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, GA., and our goal has always been to provide safe, convenient and affordable transit services that support economic vitality and quality of life. Every time you use CATS you're helping, too--by cutting down on traffic, keeping the air clean and helping our economy prosper.

Starting Out The Easy Way
For CATS to be successful, it also must be convenient. That's why the system operates more than 40 routes, transporting more than 18 million passengers each year. We're linking local and regional communities to jobs, medical facilities and entertainment. More than thirty local routes provide the flexibility of numerous stops within the city, with most operating from 4:49 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and 5:25 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. on Sundays. Twelve express routes provide quick transportation with minimal stops from the suburbs to the uptown area.

How To Ride
Get a quick start by looking at the System Map to determine which route(s) are located near your pick-up and drop-off locations. This easy-to-use map gives you an overview of bus routes and destinations. For each route, you'll find a schedule, which includes a map with departure/arrival times. The same route schedule and system map you find on-line are also available at the Charlotte Transportation Center, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center and at most public libraries and area businesses. To find a location of route schedules near you go to Schedule Rack Locations.

Scout Your Location
Once you decide on a route that is convenient for you, determine when to catch a ride. Look at the map in your bus schedule and find the point along the route that is the most convenient place for you to board. There will be a bus stop sign along that route within a few blocks of that location.

Make It On Time
When should you catch the bus? Look at the timetable on your schedule. The bus leaves at each of the times listed below the Time Points. Find the one closest to the time you want to arrive, then move your finger along that line to your destination. This determines your departure time. You can also catch the bus at stops in between time points, but these aren't listed. Be sure to get to the bus shelter or stop a few minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.

The Way To Pay
How should you pay? CATS provides a variety of payment options. As you board, place your fare in the easy-to-use farebox. You may pay with coins and dollar bills, but the farebox does not make change. Be prepared with correct fare, because your bus operator can not make change either. Current fares are posted on the farebox, or go to Passes & Fares.

You may find it more convenient to purchase a pass which comes with unlimited rides. Passes come in many values including weekly, monthly and booklets of ten rides. Passes can be purchased from the Charlotte Transportation Center, local Wayne's and Harris Teeter grocery stores, and other locations throughout the Metrolina area. Click here for a Pass Sales Outlet convenient for you. Your pass gives you unlimited rides during the week or month it is in effect. Many area businesses have gotten on board with the Employee Transportation Coordinator (ETC) Program and sell passes to their employees in the work place. Go to Companies Participating in the ETC Program to see if your employer sells passes in the workplace.

Need A Transfer?
If your trip requires more than one bus ride, ask the operator for a transfer when you board. Transfers are good for one hour and are free, unless you are transferring from a local route to an express route or to a connecting service whose fare is higher than the one you paid, in which case a small charge is required. Go to Passes & Fares for details.

Expressly For You
Between work, home, school, and kids, you're on a tight schedule. That's why Express and Express Plus are going your way, too just when you need them most. At over 40 convenient Park & Ride locations all over town, parking is free. And the trip is quick. Express buses travel from the outskirts of Mecklenburg and surrounding counties and become non-stop at points where traffic starts to get heavy. They run weekdays only, from 6:00a.m. to 9:00a.m., and 3:30p.m. to 6:00p.m. And, they take a break when you do Express buses don't run on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays, except 77x North Mecklenburg Express.  Check out the express routes near you for specific operating hours.

The Ride Way To Get There
Riding the bus is easy, once you know how. Just follow these seven easy steps:

  1. Be at your stop a few minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  2. Look for the signs that mark all of our bus stops.
  3. Watch for your bus. Look at the lighted sign above the bus windshield for the route number and name. Stand where the bus operator can see you.
  4. Have your fare or pass ready. Current fares are posted on the fareboxes. Be sure to have correct change. The bus operator can't make change. If using a pass, just swipe your card through the farebox.
  5. If your trip requires more than one bus ride, ask the operator for a transfer.
  6. Sit back, relax, and watch for your destination. For the comfort of all passengers, we ask that you comply with the Riders Code of Conduct.

7.  One block before you want to get off, let the operator know by pushing the vertical strip on the side of your window, or pull the cord mounted above the window.

For more information, just call us at 704-336-RIDE to speak with a Transit Customer Service Representative Monday through Friday from 6:15a.m. to 6:30p.m. BUSTER, our interactive information expert, can also take calls 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

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