Crackdown on LYNX ticket cheaters

By Michael Handy - bio | email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is holding a crackdown on light rail cheaters with an enhanced plan to catch people who are not paying to ride LYNX trains.

Based on previous crackdowns, CATS officials were not expecting to give out a huge number of tickets.  However, they will continue to hold these crackdowns at least four times a year.

The crackdown is called a "Ticket Blitz" which means everyone getting on a LYNX train will be asked to show a ticket.

A one-way ticket on Charlotte's most elite form of mass transportation costs only $1.50, but some folks are just too cheap or too busy to pay.

"If (riders) are in a hurry, and the ticket vending machine is a little slow, they'll sometimes say, 'Well, what the heck, I'll just go jump on the train, maybe I won't get caught,'" said Bob Nipper with LYNX Safety and Security.

Nipper said ticket cheaters are somewhat expected, especially since the LYNX fare system is mostly based on trust.

"It's an honor system," said Nipper.  "For the most part, people in Charlotte are honest hard-working people."

But like any other good, honest system, there is always someone trying to beat it.

"I've seen people skip through it," said Gail Mann, a LYNX rider.

"A few people, they see the inspector, and they'll jump off just in time at the next stop," said Philip Calland, a LYNX rider.

"They just don't want to pay that $3 round trip or that $1.50 one way," added Nipper.

If you are one of the people who is just too cheap to pay or in too big a hurry to stop at a ticket machine, then starting today, you better heed the train inspector's warning.

"At $50, it's really just not worth it," said Nipper.  "Then after 30 days, if you don't pay the fine, it goes to $100."

This is not the first time CATS has held a "Ticket Blitz."  Inspectors conduct them once every quarter to see how well the honor system is working.

During the last "Ticket Blitz," CATS officials found only .05 % of passengers were trying to beat the system.

If the number of passengers hopping trains without a ticket ever gets too high, CATS officials would likely do away with the honor system.

Also, inspectors and police already conduct regular ticket checks, even when they are not holding a "Ticket Blitz."