CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's been more than a week since the new Blue Line extension has opened up more opportunities to riders and businesses by connecting UNC Charlotte to uptown.
Now, we are getting a look at the impact it is having on the surrounding community. We're told parking has become a problem, and it may only get worse.
The Blue Line has 26 stations, but only 11 of them have parking. Most have free parking, except JW Clay and University City Boulevard - the two newest stations. That has many using The Boardwalk to park, leaving little to no spaces for businesses and their employees.
"My employees will call and say they are looking for a parking spot and waiting for someone to move so they can find a spot," said Dustin Loranger, restaurant manager at Boardwalk Billy's.
Loranger says for as long as he can remember parking has been a problem at The Boardwalk.
"Come spring and summertime, people flock to the area and want to sit on our patio," he said.
The flocking customers aren't showing any signs of slowing down. The parking situation is only getting worse, according to the Shoppes at University property manger's office. They say the full parking lot may have something to do with the new JW Clay LYNX Blue Line that sits just one block away.
JW Clay is one of two new stops where there's a $10 fee to park inside the CATS deck if you don't buy a transit pass that costs $6.60 or more. The other location is at University City Boulevard.
Some riders don't understand why there's a fee in the first place and are finding other places to park such as the Shoppes at University area so they can keep their cash.
"I don't see why... it's just, I don't know," said one rider.
As more riders get creative in avoiding any parking fees associated with the LYNX line, Loranger says having more cars and foot traffic in the area does wonders for his restaurant.
"From a managerial standpoint, I see it as a positive thing. It's only going to help business, you know," said Loranger.
A CATS spokesperson said the reason why there is a fee to park is to make sure there are parking spaces left for riders who are not UNC Charlotte students. They fear students would clog the decks if it was free.