CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Area Transit System will offer free rides on its buses and trains as the Colonial Pipeline shutdown has led to a run on gas inventory at gas stations.
"CATS is announcing fare-free transit for all community members during the temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline to assist citizens with access to essential workplaces," the transit system said in a released statement Wednesday.
The transit system is not enforcing or limiting the free rides to certain employers or employees. The effort is intended to help workers reach their workplace when finding gasoline has become difficult.
As of Wednesday morning, analysis from Gas Buddy, a gas tracking website, indicated 71% of Charlotte metro gas stations were without gasoline.
The scarcity at gas stations was caused Tuesday by panic buying caused when drivers were concerned the pipeline shutdown could lead to shortages in the days to come. On Wednesday, truck drivers, with access to reserves at holding facilities, were continuing to truck fresh loads of gasoline to regional gas stations from the supply chain.
The CATS free rides are effective immediately and are expected to continue throughout the pipeline shutdown. CATS says a public announcement will be made before fare-enforcement resumes.
To find a bus or rail line in your neighborhood, visit the CATS website.
"CATS is actively monitoring fuel availability and supply. The organization is in close coordination with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management," CATS said in their release Wednesday.
Other agencies like the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools say they currently have enough fuel to maintain the operation of their vehicles.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency earlier this week to help ensure adequate fuel supplies could be delivered. As part of that state of emergency, North Carolina's price gouging law went into effect. This prohibits businesses from overcharging during times of crisis.