What does ‘on time’ really mean for CATS?

What does 'On-Time' really mean for CATS?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Commuters rely on the Charlotte Area Transit System to get them where they need to go on time, but WBTV has learned that CATS has an interesting way of measuring what “on time” really means.

WBTV requested data from CATS showing how timely the bus and light rail system are. According to the records provided LYNX is running on-time 98.5 percent of the time in 2019. However, CATS buses are on-time just 85.21 percent of the time.

But the definition of on-time for CATS is different than what it means for most people.

CATS On-Time Performance Standards: A vehicle is considered “late” when it arrives five minutes or more after the scheduled time. A vehicle is considered “early” if it departs one minute or more prior to the scheduled time. All other trips are considered “on time”.

But that’s not the only standard that might surprise riders. While most Charlotteans count on the light rail to arrive at each station on-time, that’s not how CATS scores themselves.

According to a CATS spokesperson “OTP (On-Time Performance) is not calculated for each individual LYNX station. LYNX calculates OTP as: each trip from I-485 Station to UNC Charlotte Main Station arriving within a certain time.”

WBTV wanted to put LYNX on-time performance to the test. On Oct. 9 a WBTV Investigative Reporter rode the light rail from I-485 to UNC Charlotte.

The train departed the I-485 station at 8:59 a.m., within the on-time standards set by LYNX. However, the train did not arrive at UNC Charlotte until 10:03 a.m., which is late by CATS standards.

According to CATS, their OTP for LYNX that day was 98.6 percent.

Most CATS riders WBTV spoke with say they highly rate the LYNX system. A survey CATS performed of customers found that 91% of riders are overall satisfied with LYNX.

But some customers WBTV spoke with complained about the lack of timing between the buses and the light rail, saying that often they have to wait for extended periods of time for a bus.

A CATS spokesperson said they are working to alleviate those problems through the Envision My Ride plan.

That would potentially include upgrading some infrastructure technologies such as:

  • Dedicated bus only lanes to improve speed and reliability.
  • Queue jumpers that allow buses to jump ahead at a traffic light.
  • Transit signal priority for buses at key intersections.

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.