Sunday, May 20, 2018

Social Justice to be Focus of New Tri County Transit Coalition Friday, May 25

North Charleston, SC- State Rep. Wendell Gaillard (Convening) with State Representative Marvin Pendavis, and Mayor Charles Duberry of Lincolnville, invite you to the Organizing Meeting of The Tri County Coalition for Transit Equity on Friday, May 25 - 11 am at North Charleston City Hall.

* see endnote on opinions in this post

The purpose of the coalition is to help guide the government planning process for the proposed Lowcountry Rapid Transit line and other transit projects towards investments which will enhance opportunity and quality of life for all residents of the Lowcountry

There is a facebook signup for the meeting at
The purpose of the coalition is to help guide the government planning process for the proposed Lowcountry Rapid Transit line and other transit projects towards investments which will enhance opportunity and quality fo life for all residents of the Lowcountry

For more information on the current issues facing Lowcountry Public Transit see the links thoughout this post, including the list at the end or contact-
·         Rep Wendell Gaillard- 843-209-3123;
·         Rep. Pendarvis. Ph. (803) 212-6716;
·         Mayor Charles Duberry- 843.478.1348
·         William J. Hamilton, III- or (843) 870-5299

Congressman Mark Sanford sees the Citizens Committment to Tranist.
At the last CARTA board meeting a series of major planning meetings for the Bus Rapid Transit system all slated for the dead zone of summer, when governments traditionally push matters through actions they wish to minimize public involvement with. Two years ago, it was at that time of the year that County Council stripped the referendum question of all specific content regarding transit spending. The BRT discussion starts in this video at 57 minutes in. Do not skip these meetings.

It’s clear organizing a social justice focused Transit coalition for the Lowcountry has to begin immediately.  Over the past 15 months Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit, using the proceeds of a 20 thousand dollar Transit Center Grant, has been building the elements needed to bring the social justice community together on this issue.  Our original plan for Summer 2018 (as submitted to the CARTA board last week in this memo.) had been to wait to call for organizing a coalition until fall of 2018, but it’s now clear the planning effort for the critical BRT line may be largely complete by then, making getting needed changes made difficult or impossible.  We’ve been organizing activism on the Transit issue here for 7 years now and we’re well aware of the challenges of operating during the summer. 

The Lowcountry is committed to an economically unsustainable overbalance on the automobile. the build the new roads and lanes voters demand, we've neglected maintenance on structures like the Wando River Bridge, which is failing after 29 years for reasons noone in charge is willing to agree on but certainly include deferred maintenance. Those cables should have been replaced years ago.

Robot cars aren't going to save us either, but we'll get to that later.

We were anticipating advocacy regarding the CARTA budget and lack or transit access to the beaches this summer, working in cooperation with other social justice organizations. Those issues are an annual concern and a disappointment, like last year’s CARTA budget allowing 11 million dollars in bus operating funds to be used as an interest free loan for road construction, always have window for correction a year later. However the BRT line is a 350 million dollar project which will have a permanent impact on the Lowcountry. 

The impact of bad or unjust planning could be devastating on the region’s future.  The chronic I526 Johns Island Controversy and new Wando Bridge Failure mean highway projects will have even more pressure to raid transit funding. Weak participation in this summer’s meetings would be an invitation to have our transit system shoved into the “maybe later” pile. The status of this project is protected by a mere resolution passed by County Council and could be changed by a simply majority vote of council, which several members of County Council, including Chairman Vic Rawl, have insisted they have the right to consider.

We recognize that this new set of meetings may be just another round in the 20 year cycle of planning which goes nowhere, however we have indications that an engineering firm has a local office and has begun working on the project. There has been selective communication with favored local “stakeholders” not reliably connected with the social justice, food and beverage, labor, differently abled and minority communities. While these groups profess a nominal interest in alternative transportation, nearly all their constituents drive automobiles and they’re not reliably motivated to challenge power on important issues such as the sue of the “Low line” railroad corridor for transit access to the heart of the city.

We can improve regular bus service starting this year, provided local governments pass an appropriate CARTA budget. Mt. Pleasant rejected last year’s CARTA budget because it did not provide adequate bus service to the town’s residents. Unless this year’s budget provides significant improvement, we’ll fight it again. We need “gold standard” BRT which transports everyone from the Center of Summerville to the Center of Charleston without transfers or waiting, not merely because that would save us time, but because nothing else will really work. These are not things politicians facing an election in November who believe cars vote and transit riders don’t are going to go to the trouble of supporting unless it is clear that in November, there could be a high cost to neglecting it. We don’t’ want our BRT system to end up being an inadequate effort which disintegrates in a generation like the Wando River Bridge. It must be the spine of a real transit system for the Lowcountry which offers mobilty and dignity to all.

Rep. Gaillard, Rep. Pendarvis and Mayor Duberry ask representatives of all the organiztions working for a more just Charleston to join them Friday, May 25 at N. Charleston City Hall.

A preparatory online conference call will be held for supporters and members of Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit, Inc. the previous evening, Thursday, May 24th. At 9:00 pm. Sign up online at

* Note: the opinions set out in this statement are those of Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit, Inc. and the statement’s author William J. Hamilton. They may differ from the positions of Representatives Gaillard and Pendarvis as well as Mayor Duberry. For an accurate statement on their views, please contact them directly.

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