October 27, 2023

What are the Transportation Costs in Charlotte in 2023-24?


Welcome to our comprehensive guide on transportation costs in Charlotte, NC. In this article, we will explore various modes of transportation and their associated costs in the city. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, understanding the expenses involved in getting around Charlotte is essential for budgeting and planning. From public transportation to private services, we will cover it all. So, let’s dive in and explore the transportation landscape of Charlotte!

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Public Transportation

CATS-Pass App: Ticket Options and Pricing

If you’re looking to travel within Charlotte using public transportation, the CATS-Pass app offers a convenient and cost-effective solution. The app provides various ticket options to cater to different traveler needs. These options include:

  • Adult Tickets: Local bus and LYNX One-Way, One Day, Weekly, and Monthly; Express bus One-Way and Monthly; Express Plus bus One-Way and Monthly.
  • Senior and ADA/Disabled Tickets: Local bus and LYNX One-Way and Monthly; Express bus One-Way and Monthly; Express Plus bus One-Way and Monthly.
  • Youth Tickets: Local bus and LYNX One-Way, Express bus One-Way, and Express Plus bus One-Way.

The cost of tickets purchased through the CATS-Pass app is the same as those purchased from other pass sale locations, such as Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs). This ensures that you won’t incur any additional expenses for using the app.

Ticket Activation and Offline Usage

One of the significant advantages of the CATS-Pass app is its offline functionality. You can view the “Wallet” section offline, which includes active, non-active, and expired tickets. Additionally, you can even activate tickets while your phone is offline. However, please note that offline-activated tickets are only valid for 60 minutes. After an hour, you’ll need to reconnect to the internet to view the ticket again. It’s important to remember that other features of the app, such as the trip planner, can only be accessed when you’re online.

Managing Tickets and Receipts

The CATS-Pass app provides a user-friendly interface for managing your purchased tickets. To view your purchased tickets, simply click the “Wallet” button on the home screen. All your active tickets will be displayed directly on the home screen for easy access. If you require a printed receipt for your ticket purchase, you can navigate to the “History” section in the “Wallet.” From there, select the purchase order and use the export icon in the upper right corner to email a receipt for each transaction.

Ticket Changes and Refunds

Once a ticket is purchased through the CATS-Pass app, it cannot be changed. It is essential to review your ticket selection carefully before making a purchase. In case you realize that you’ve bought the wrong ticket, refunds will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and refunded at the discretion of management. To initiate a refund request, please contact CATS Customer Service at 704.336.7433 or via email at It’s important to note that expired tickets are not eligible for refunds.

Purchasing Tickets in Advance

If you prefer to plan your travels in advance, the CATS-Pass app allows you to purchase tickets ahead of time. Non-activated tickets are stored in your “Wallet,” and it’s recommended not to activate them until shortly before boarding the bus or train. It’s worth noting that tickets purchased through the app expire 60 days after the purchase date, so be mindful of the expiration date.

The Rising Costs of Transportation Projects

Transportation projects, including the expansion of light rail lines, have seen a significant increase in costs over the years. This trend is not unique to Charlotte but is observed across the nation. The reasons behind these rising costs are multifaceted, with increased consultant usage being one contributing factor. Consultants, although more expensive than in-house staff, are increasingly being employed for their expertise in specialized areas.

The Role of Consultants in Transportation Projects

One recent example of consultant involvement is the contract between Charlotte City Council and InfraStrategies, a transit consultant based in California. The no-bid contract, approved for “financial modeling,” raises questions about the necessity and cost-effectiveness of using external consultants. InfraStrategies, led by former Charlotte Area Transit System chief executive Carolyn Flowers, has worked with the city before, as well as transit systems in Nashville, Austin, Boston, Chicago, and New York.

The InfraStrategies contract with Charlotte City Council could amount to as much as $1 million per year for three years. While consultants play a role in various aspects of transportation projects, such as updating cost estimates, testing program definitions, and incorporating financing strategies, it is important to evaluate the need for external consultants versus in-house analysts.

Alternative Approaches to Financial Modeling

Other departments and agencies involved in long-term transportation planning often rely on in-house staff or collaborations with governmental entities. The Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT), for example, has traditionally not used consultants for financial modeling, instead relying on the city’s finance department for projections. Similarly, the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) works closely with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to determine project costs and available funding.

Considering the scope of the proposed transit plan and the cost of the InfraStrategies contract, it is worth exploring alternative approaches to financial modeling in transportation projects. Hiring in-house analysts, who can provide ongoing support and expertise, may offer a more cost-effective solution in the long run.

Senior Transportation Costs in Charlotte

For seniors in Charlotte, transportation can be a crucial factor in maintaining independence and accessing necessary services. Understanding the costs associated with senior transportation is essential for budgeting and planning. Let’s explore the average rates for senior transportation in Charlotte, NC, as of October 2023.

Average Rates for Senior Transportation

As of October 2023, the average base rate for senior transportation in Charlotte, NC, is approximately $17.17 per hour. This rate is based on data reported by service providers listed on, a platform connecting caregivers with those in need of assistance. For a senior transportation provider working a 40-hour week, the weekly cost in Charlotte would amount to around $687. Similarly, the monthly cost for 130 hours of work is approximately $2,232.

Comparison to State and National Rates

When comparing the cost of hiring a senior transportation provider in Charlotte to the rest of North Carolina and the United States, we can observe some variations. The average base rate in Charlotte is around 5% higher than the state average of $16.32 per hour. However, it is 7% lower than the national average of $18.52 per hour.

To provide further context, let’s examine the maximum hourly rates for senior transportation in Charlotte, NC, as well as the state and national averages.

Location Avg hourly base rate Max hourly rate
Charlotte, NC $17.17 $28.16
North Carolina $16.32 $26.67
United States $18.52 $29.54

It’s important to note that these rates can vary based on factors such as experience, additional services provided, and the specific needs of the senior being transported.

Factors Affecting Senior Transportation Rates

Several factors contribute to the variation in senior transportation rates, not only in Charlotte but also in nearby cities. A higher cost of living, increased demand for senior transportation services, and a more competitive job market can all influence the average rates. When considering senior transportation services, it’s crucial to evaluate the local factors that may impact the costs.


Navigating transportation costs in Charlotte, NC, requires an understanding of various options and their associated expenses. Whether you rely on public transportation or require specialized services like senior transportation, being aware of the prices can help you plan and budget effectively. Additionally, evaluating the use of external consultants in transportation projects can contribute to cost savings and more efficient resource allocation. By considering alternative approaches and harnessing in-house expertise, cities like Charlotte can mitigate rising transportation project costs.

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