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Gearing up for more riders

CATS gets ready to take more basketball fans into Uptown

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During the busy CIAA tournament, the light rail was packed. Often riders didn't pay.

With the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament starting tomorrow, what has the Charlotte Area Transit Authority done to make the ride into Uptown smoother for visitors -- and more profitable for CATS?

Some problems during the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament, especially later in the week when ridership picked up, included ticket machines malfunctioning during peak travel hours, as well as some riders not purchasing tickets.

During the March 1 championship game when thousands of people were leaving Bobcats Arena, only one ticket machine on the Seventh Street Station platform was operating. And even though CATS and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers were on the scene, tickets weren't checked closely.

CATS spokeswomen, Jean Leier, says it will be a few weeks before ridership figures for the CIAA are available.

The Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Tournament is a different animal than the party filled CIAA tournament, however: Things look fruitful for the ACC tournament.

CATS is expecting high ridership on Friday during University Day when many fans will make the trip from the Bobcats Arena to the Charlotte Convention Center.

According to the ACC Web site, CATS reached an agreement with ACC tournament coordinators and are able to sell weekly transit passes in advance. The Gold Rush services will also be extending their hours: On Thursday and Friday, the Gold Rush will run until midnight and on Saturday from 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The ACC Men's Tournament hasn't been in Charlotte since 2002.

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