$1.6 billion thanks

Having survived a week without a fatality, it was time to try out the light rail extension.

We road it from end to end – I-485 to UNC-Charlotte.

At the UNCC station, there was a very visible policeman watching the people coming off the train, so if you are riding the mugger mover in order to break into cars in the parking decks, you are not likely to be unobserved.

At the next station, the secondary UNCC station had a parking deck and a woman being employed as a “Lynx Extension Ambassador”. Had I not been persistent, she probably would have had no interaction with us. I asked if the University circulator bus stopped at the station and she didn’t know. She didn’t know if there was a senior version of the all day pass – the app didn’t know, and the answer was not on her clipboard. She offered me the suggestion that I could call the CATS help line. She was just hired and lacked the basic knowledge of the bus system.

There was an interesting piece of artwork at the UNCC stop. The Lynx line has added soda machines on the station platforms recently, but none at the UNCC “safe space” station.

CATS recently rolled out a “pay by app” payment system. It gives you 90 minutes to complete your one-way ride. Fares are enforced by the threat that a ticket inspector might ask for your ticket, but enforcement is very spotty. The total fines for fare evasion last year was $11,000.

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33 Responses to $1.6 billion thanks

  1. Fred Stiening says:

    0.19 blood alcohol in the system of the woman who fell out of the bus.


    “Twice the legal limit” is a misnomer as the legal limit for a 20 year old is 0.00

  2. Fred Stiening says:

    The Light Rail has failed in its primary purpose.

    On May 1st around 10:30 PM, a fraternity rented a party bus to carry 55 to 60 people from the off-campus UNCC frat house to the bars in Uptown. A 20 year old cheerleader (too young to drink legally) fell out of the bus through an emergency exit and fell into an active traffic lane on a busy street. She was hit by two cars and died at the scene.


    The ZTA is a “women’s fraternity”, not a male fraternity or sorority.

    • CC1s121LrBGT says:

      Sad. Seems to me that if you and your friends rent a party bus, you can sit in the back and be very drunk. You can also be very “disorderly” when among your friends in the back. If you did either on the light rail, you’d be subject to arrest for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct… on a party bus with friends, not so much sot.

      • Fred Stiening says:

        Then there is the issue of safety on the return trip. Intoxicated people are soft targets for robbers. North Tryon Street is a rough neighborhood (by charlotte standards) – marginal businesses like tattoo parlors, pawn shops, payday loans, etc.

        Because UNCC is a day school with limited dorm housing – far away from established safe housing – most students live off-campus nearby. A glut of rental housing near the school has been backfilled with drug dealers and people on public assistance. That is where the riots were and the people decided to burn the truck of an innocent guy passing by on I-85 who stopped instead of mowing down the mob

    • TheChairman says:

      It seems the bus had fictitious plates and no insurance.

      • Fred Stiening says:

        They should make a law against that.

        A few questions I have not seen asked – what is the seating capacity of the bus? Was the person driving the bus an employee of the owner or were they hired by the fraternity or a third party? Who rented the bus?

        Another version of the story indicates a history of problems that might explain the problem getting insurance.

        • TheChairman says:

          Involuntary Manslaughter is the first thing that comes to mind. i.e. criminal negligence: no insurance, willful failure to register, and a falsified license plate. Book ’em Danno!

          • Fred Stiening says:

            That would be a hard charge to prove since the bus owner wasn’t present and it isn’t established the bus was broken. If a person on the bus released the latch to get more air, that person might fit the charge.

            I just remembered something very similar. We did not have a car as neither parent could drive, so we rode the greyhound bus. If you remember the two level scenicruser iconic bus, that was what we were riding. While it had air conditioning, people would slide open the windows to get fresh air, defeating the purpose of the air conditioning. I was probably 7 or 8 years old seated next to an older crazy woman.

            She decided to release the latch for the emergency exit to get more air. The bus driver pulled over because the window was banging as it swung out and back in. He explained to the woman that if she did it again, she would be put off the bus at the next stop. She got the message.

            • TheChairman says:

              NC enforcement for commercial vehicles sounds a bit lax or outdated. i.e. The bus fleet owner continued to flout the laws.

              California authorities accused a Santa Cruz party bus owner of “gross negligence” and arrested him on involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with the 2012 death of a passenger who fell out the bus doors.


              Here, the legal issue would be that the vehicle never should have been on the road in the first place… any resulting death would be treated as negligence, similar to DUI or driving on a suspended license. e.g. In AZ (as in many states) they charge both a civil penalty -and- a criminal penalty, with separate hearings and courts for each. The driver may be facing a civil penalty, but the owner put the bus in operation illegally (fake tags).

      • Fred Stiening says:

        Of course, I do not live in California – by choice

        The bus owner in California was convicted


        The details in the story indicate the owner knew there was a problem with the door, fired his mechanic 5 months before the accident and was aware the door was broken.

        Time will tell if the state pursues charges. Mecklenburg County just elected a new District Attorney last night.

        • TheChairman says:

          Of course, we have these party-bus operators in Arizona, and I frequently see these vehicles for sale on Craigslist; either because the business closed or the vehicle is old.

          What puzzles me is the lack of mandated seat-belt usage & enforcement in a bus, versus everybody else on the road. Leaning on a door or large window is not very prudent either… in that respect, it is a lack of common sense.

  3. Fred Stiening says:

    Compare this to the subway system in Sofia, Bulgaria, which was built in its entirety for less than this one LRV extension


    Sofiá is comparable in population to Charlotte and the subway system carries roughly the same number of riders per day as the Lynx does in a month, including a branch that goes to the airport.


    • TheChairman says:

      One factor: Bulgaria is still shaking off 50+ years of soviet socialism, while we are sliding head-first into it. e.g. The ‘New Khmer Rouge’ marched on Saturday…

      • Fred Stiening says:

        When the students come to kill the professors, the professors will belatedly realize the error of their ways. Perhaps they no longer teach about the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution and which people were killed or sent to work in the rice paddies and why.

        We might see the same thing with venues of heterosexual dating, with third party vigilantes beating up men who kiss their girlfriend in public.

  4. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    > “$1.6 billion thanks”

    No problem. You’re very welcome.

    I see your 1.6 and raise you 28.4 to a smooth 30… just for a tunnel – no train included.


    “The $1.3 trillion spending deal will free up $540 million in seed money for the $30 billion Gateway Tunnel project through creative bill writing, according to one congressional source.”

    • CC1s121LrBGT says:

      Another comparison. Note that NJ is less than 12 miles from CT – less than half the distance here and that 1 British Pound equals
      1.42 US Dollar today: https://www.eurostar.com/us-en/travel-info/the-chunnel

      It took just under six years and 13,000 workers to build the Channel Tunnel. The total cost came at an eye-watering £4.65 billion which would be the equivalent of £12 billion in today’s money.

      The Chunnel is 31.5 miles long or 50.45 km. That’s the equivalent of 169 Eiffel Towers stacked on top of each other.

      23.5 miles (37.9 km) of the Chunnel is under the English Channel, making it the world’s longest undersea tunnel.

      • Fred Stiening says:

        I mentioned to Countess just last night that if we were thinking “out of the box” that we should look again at building a rail and/or auto tunnel/bridge connecting the Northern Shore of Long Island to get the traffic and future growth out of the I-95 corridor through Westchester County and Connecticut. The project would be analogous to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel.

        • CC1s121LrBGT says:

          Most major cities have “beltways”, “loops” (or “rings as they are know in the UK)”. NYC does not. I-287 is an incomplete semicircle connecting NJ and CT but not completing the circle.

          For over 50 years, there have been plans to connect Long Island to Connecticut via bridges so that people get on and off “the Island” (millions of people) without going through NYC and its overcrowded crowded bridges and tunnels.

          A similar bridge-tunnel connecting Coney Island to Sandy Hook would complete the loop and give people from LI a direct path to the south without going through NYC. It will never happen as Sandy Hook is probably the most beautiful beach between Cape Cod and Florida. It has sandy hills deposited by the southernmost tip of the glacier from the last ice age and was recently converted from a state park to a national park.

          What is more realistic is a road bridge-tunnel highway from Brooklyn directly to NJ bypassing Manhattan and its city streets and traffic lights.

          A way to get people on and off Long Island without going through NYC would got a very long way to solving a lot of traffic problems.

          The $30 billion for a train tunnel is ridiculous and the money would be better spent on an automobile connection.

          The problem is that the existing train tunnel was built in 1910 and was doing fine until the city allowed it to fill with salt water during Super Storm Sandy. That caused rapid deterioration of the 100 year old metal tracks and electrical power system – it needs to be brought off line for years so it can be rehabilitated. Hard to blame the 19th century designers for not considering that no one would close the tunnel during an expected storm in the 21st century. Even if they were negligent, even Bob Mueller can’t scapegoat them now. 😉

  5. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    Very modern! Especially the use of the word “Disabled”

    I was concerned that that might no longer be a politically correct term, but it is! You are no longer to use “The Disabled”. Evidently, “The Diabled” have gone the way of “Smokey The Bear”. Today you say “Smokey Bear” like “Smokey Robinson”.

    You know you are in or around the 70s if you cell app says “handicapped”…. and probably in the 50s if it says “mentally defective, retarded, subnormal, spastic, invalid, or crippled”

    Enjoy the old favorite “Tears of a Clown” before it become “Tears of Clown”

    • Fred Stiening says:

      The “Senior” fare applies to those 62 or over. A fare inspector could request proof that you qualify for the senior/disabled – either a transit ID or a Medicare card. Since I am only 62 and therefore not on Medicare, to qualify for the Senior rate, I am required to go to Transit Center between 8-5 on Monday-Friday, pay $1 and have my picture taken and give them my name and address, along with proof of my age. Since I did not do that, in theory I could have been charged with a class 3 misdemeanor criminal charge.

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        You’re now subject to blackmail from the Russians and would have trouble getting Jared Kushner’s job, should he resign. 😉

        • Fred Stiening says:

          My theory on the reason for this rule is that the Transit Center can look at my Driver’s license (or passport or birth certificate) and determine that I am 62 by just having a cutoff date in a computer, while the fare inspectors would have to try to figure it out in their head, which might result in errors.

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        I hereby declare “Art Stone” undocumented and bestow upon Art Stone all the special rights and privileges associated with the undocumented status. LOL

        • Fred Stiening says:

          I wonder if a transit ID would allow me to register to vote.

          • CC1s121LrBGT says:

            You will also have to either check a box saying you are a citizen or even prove you are a citizen. I don’t know about NC election law, but I do know that 2 states require proof of citizenship for registering to vote and the other 48 only require you to check a box declaring that you are a citizen.

            Then there is the issue of not needing an ID on voting day.

            Voter Fraud? “It’s never been proven to be a problem”, declare the Dimms.

    • CC1s121LrBGT says:

      Update: NC speak vs TX speak.

      Eveidently in NC, you can say “Disabled” but in Texax, the correct way to say it is instead “people with disabilities”. See entry 1 in column 1 of the table “Examples of People First Language”. Does anyone remember when the seatbelt laws were first passed and would not be used to stop people to issue tickets? They were promised only as a secondary ticket for someone with a moving violation. How long until we get ticketed for expressing ourselves?


      Enjoy “Up on ‘person with a physical disability’ Creek” the old fashion way before it is banned for good:


  6. countess robini says:

    there was no identification plaque anywhere near the sculpture at the uncc stop. sorry.

    the employee fred talked to broke off the conversation when a young woman approached us to complain that the ticket vending machine she had just used took $20 for one ticket. we didn’t find out how the problem was resolved because our train pulled into the station and we boogied on down the line.

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