Tuesday, May 8, 2018

We- Who is On Board for Better Transit in the Lowcountry

4 days to #ConChaCo

Mary Smith at Sylphide, the Sprit of Motion
Note- This is the Second of five public statements to be issued by Best Friends of Public Transit to prepare the community for Saturday’s ConChaCo event, a Charleston City Wide Transit Focused Festival along the #20 Upper King / Meeting Bus line linking the Farmer’s Market, Awakening Motion, The Greek Festival, the ConChaCo Pub Crawl & Restaurant Hop and the Night Market. Full information can be found in this previous media release. The Statements will be titled by our organization’s Motto: Together We Go Forward & ConChaCo and will announce a 6 pm event each day to help create better transit in the Lowcountry. Tuesday’s word is “We.”

On Friday, We invite press and publc to meet with Sigute "Siggy" Meilus, Executive Director Americans for Transit at the Charleston County Library on Calhoun Street at 10 am.

Fighting for Transit with Friends across the US

Handmade #ConChaCo Buttons 
We often feel a bit tired and lonely as our struggle to create better transit in the Lowcountry moves into its 7th year.  The long series of often sparsely attended meetings like the BCD Council of Governments meetings in North Charleston on Bus Rapid Transit in April which drew less than 10 people can leave an advocate and the public tired and unmotivated.

However. We spent Saturday at a little Cinco De Mayo event in the parking lot of the Food Lion on upper King Street. We talked to over 100 people, long meaningful dicussions about the transit they need and were promised with the half penny sales tax under our blue pop up tent. While we talked to Mom and Dad, Julia Hamilton helped their restless children make colorful #ConChaCo Buttons.

Our However this fight covers a tremendous amount of ground and our forces, while sometimes thin, are everywhere in the Lowcountry.  We have allies in the Canyons of New York helping advocates fight for and win for public transit in fifty cities at Transit Center, which awarded the 20 thousand dollar grant which is making ConChaCo possible. Today there are hundreds or transit organizations, reaching 30 million transit riders, most organized in the seven years since Linda Page launched the local effort with the goal of saving Mount Pleasant’s bus routes. A brand-new effort launched in Greenville, SC last week with the assistance of Ben Ross who won the fight for the purple light rail line in Maryland. Ross made an uphill tour of the state inspiring communities through the Lowcountry, Midlands and Upstate, ending with a rally in Greenville.

Sigute "Siggy" Meilus Returning to Charleston Thursday

Sigute "Siggy" Meilus
One of our most steadfast allies has been Americans for Transit, headquartered in Washington, DC.  They provided most of the funding and some battle hardened national staff leadership for our victorious Transit Complete the Penny Campaign here in 2016. It is certain without their help, Charleston would currently have no funds available to build the planned bus rapid Transit line or improve our CARTA bus routes. While the search for will to improve continues, the money is waiting.

This Weekend for ConChaCo Sigute "Siggy" Meilus, Executive Director of Americans for Transit will visit Charleston to see how our campaign to turn the 600 million dollar half penny sales tax funding won in the 2016 referendum into better transit for the Lowcountry.  Siggy will meet with the press and make a short presentation to the public at the Main Branch of the Charleston County Library on Calhoun Street at 10 am on Friday and will be meeting local transit supporters and government officials during ConChaCo on Saturday, riding the #20 bus, visiting with the public at our information tent next to Scott’s BBQ on King Street and maybe even trying a few rounds of “CARTA Kino at ConChaCo” at the Recovery Room, where participants win prizes based on when the Northbound Bus #20passes Charleston’s iconic local neighborhood bar.

Siggy has been the Executive Director of Americans for Transit since February of 2017.  Siggy is public transit rider and Massachusetts native who has been working in progressive movements since 2008. Siggy started organizing for transit justice as a university student and then spent 5 years organizing with transit riders and workers in Southeastern Massachusetts. In that time Siggy's work included building a bus rider's advocacy organization and organizing winning campaigns for increasing and expanding bus service, stopping fare hikes, increasing funding for regional transit authorities, and helping pass statewide legislation to give riders a voice and vote on regional transportation boards. Siggy became the first ever rider to have a voice and vote on the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority Advisory Board 

This evening at 6 pm in preparations for ConChaCo, we’ll be leafleting bus stops downtown and hanging doorknobs with transit information in the Eastern part of the 29403 zip code.

We can only go forward if the whole community works together for better transit. In the Lowcountry progress often requires a party.  ConChaCo will be a three mile long festival with the #20 bus route as it’s backbone on Saturday. We’re thrilled to have Siggy returning to Charleston. We’re headed out to pick her up at the Airport Thursday afternoon, on the #11 bus. We’ll tweet about that with the #conchaco hashtag and you’re welcome to join us on that trip because Together We Go Forward.


For more information, Contact William Hamilton at wjhamilton29464@gmail.com or call (843) 870-5299. Full information on ConChaCo and Best Friends of Loccountry transit can be found at https://bfltransit.blogspot.com/

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