Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Move Transit Forward Starting Wed. May 16 at CARTA Board meeting.

Fifty thousand stationary automobiles are waiting on the highways, bridges and streets of the Lowcountry to go somewhere this morning because a reinforcement cable on the ageing Wando River 526 Bridgesnapped.  Offices are empty throughout the Peninsula. People take vacation days and sick leave on a Tuesday in May because they don’t want to spend four hours or more in traffic. CARTA is tied up in the same traffic as everyone else.  Betty Beus, the Coffee Shop on Church Street which employs the disabled and provides the extra Java I need today, can’t open.

Sylphide and Siggy at #ConChaCo
The future has arrived in a city fixated on the past and the needs of an elite few. It is ugly. Even the internationally awarded tourism experience is occasionally degraded by traffic, disappointing interactions with tourism workers who can’t successfully hide their anger at being victims of the community they enable and on one occasion last year by being taken hostage by a dishwasher who had just murdered a chef.

The good news is that this crisis has finally jump started ferry service between Daniel Island and downtown Charleston. Please get on board when it starts Thursday. See their website.

We’ve spent over three million dollars planning a regional transit system over the last 25 years. We have a shelf of unused studies and a rusty monorail model train set to show for it.

We need to start fixing this problem at Wednesday’s, May 16th CARTA Board meeting.
We need to go out to Folly Beach for some time with the sea and we need to come back in the Fall and start buiding the transit system with the money we voted to spend on it two years ago.
On Wednesday at 1 pm The CARTA Board will meet in the Lonnie Hamilton County Services Building. Come and speak if you can. Buttonhole the board members before the meeting starts and make it clear that the time for excuses ended a year ago. We expect them to:
  • 1.      Propose a budget that uses more of our half penny sales tax money to improve regular bus service instead of giving 11 million dollars of it away to fund suburban road construction including improved service to James Island, Folly Beach, N. Charleston and Mount Pleasant. If another starvation budget is proposed, We’ll oppose approval by the municipal governments as we did in Mt. Pleasant last fall, which rejected the CARTA Budget. We’re prepared to do that in six Cities and Towns now.
  • 2.     
    Our new banner will be twice as large as this one.
    Start limited bus service to Folly Beach on the Friday before Memorial Day. We’ll be painting a banner at the Folly Beach Farmer’s Market on Monday evening and you can pick the wording which will appear on the massive 5 x 20 foot banner. If you miss the Market, you can drive out to Folly with the crawling traffic on the Saturday before Memorial day to see it staked up where the Folly Boat used to be. We’ll be the people in the gold T shirts having Mimosas under the pop up tent nearby. If the traffic and the mimosas don’t stop us, we’ll even go to the beach. Later, join us for the second Bastille Day at the Beach on Saturday, July 14.
  • 3.      Fund, deploy and complete a nose to nose, boots on the ground outreach effort to make the HOP bus work. Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit is prepared to provide skilled outreach workers to get this done for One Thousand Dollars which can be donated to our fund at the Coastal Community Foundation. CARTA’s reliance on traditional media and top down communication has failed because of cultural and class issues in the F&B Community it’s interactions with management and ownership leaves them blind too. We’ll guarantee that the Hop Lot will be full four days a week by the end of Spoleto or return the money.

Grove Street Station, our busy #ConChaCo Info Center
#ConChaCo was a success. We talked to tens of thousands of people about riding transit downtown. However when it came to riding CARTA’s inadequate, once every 50 minutes #20 bus service, it was faster to walk, even for our own Best Friends of Local Transit Staff.  Our event partners at the Greek Festival, which was running fast, efficient shuttle buses enjoyed a massive increase in participation and revenue. People downloaded the transit app, but the amount of waiting required to use the bus and the slow speed of service left them wanting better bus service than we have and walking instead.  It was a day of missed opportunities for CARTA, when running an extra bus or two might have shown the area what real downtown bus service for local people would look like. 

Carol Explains planned BRT System at #ConChaCo
The Greek Festival Shuttle, the kind of downtown Transit CARTA ought to be running, was packed and making the festival a success, in part because we invited thousands of people to take transit downtown. Unfortunately, most took the private Festival shuttle and our own staff found out it was faster to walk several times that day, heading back from Market Street when the Transit App showed a 40 minute wait for the #20 and a 20 minute ride vs. a 30 minute walk back to the Recovery Room.

We’ve learned a lot in our first year of Transit Center grant funded advocacy. We’re ready to make a difference. Together, we go forward!

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