I spend a good bit of time in Charlotte (I’m here now, as a matter of fact), and while I haven’t ridden the Extension yet (or the original line in nearly a decade), I can confirm that it has spurred tremendous amounts of development along the line. South End exploded with growth at the opening of the first line in 2007 and 12 years later there are still dozens of projects planned or under construction in the area. NoDa on the north side is also experiencing a lot of growth around the line, but on a smaller scale. There are many scattered projects up and down the line that would have never happened without the introduction of light rail. From a land use perspective, it’s absolutely a success.
Ridership is currently a bit of an issue, as it’s only about 2/3 of what was projected. But the economy is still strong, gas prices are low, and ride-hailing services are taking a toll on transit nationwide. The Extension has only been open about 10 months, and I think people are still getting used to it. Some of the users are students at UNCC, so ridership will probably vary a bit depending upon if school is in session. I don’t have extensive data or experience with the numbers, but people certainly are using the train, just perhaps not as much as predicted.
Most people in Charlotte that I’ve interacted with seem to like the train, though that doesn’t mean much. Regardless, City leadership evidently thinks the light rail is a success, because they’re currently extending the Gold Line streetcar and planning for future transit expansions (just in the past day or so CATS recommended alignments for the Silver Line, from Matthews through Uptown, past the Airport to Belmont, and eventually to Gastonia). Keep in mind that the original Blue Line, from 485 to Uptown, was a project supported by then-mayor Pat McCrory (you may recognize the name).
All in all, I think it’s a great thing for the City of Charlotte and really hope to see further transit investment across the state.