On June 29, 2018 the Post and Courier ran and article entitled, “Park-and-ride lots could help combat high season traffic in SC beach communities.”
Two years after CARTA, the BCD COG and local elected officials promised better bus service in return for a half penny increase in the Charleston County Sales tax, local transit riders continue to wait on two things to arrive as scheduled, better bus service and the truth. We’re wondering if either is actually on the way. See an excerpt from the I26alt study showing bus routes to both IOP and Folly Beach.
As is becoming increasingly common, CARTA’s contribution to the content can be described, at best, as incomplete and misleading.
The article states, “Daniel Brock, a spokesperson for CARTA, said that the idea couldn't be implemented in the near future. One hurdle is that the transit agency would need to obtain buses with waterproof interiors in case beach-goers, who often leave town sandy and damp, use the bus. “
|Possible CARTA Beach Bus Candidate|
CARTA ran bus service to the Isle of Palms for over 50 years using regular service buses, some of which are still operating in CARTA’s regular fleet. Regular vehicles were used for the Island Flex Bus which served East of the Cooper until 2013.
Mr. Brock wouldn’t know that when CARTAs regular passengers climb on board in the pouring rain (when he would never be riding) from the hundreds of unsheltered stops still waiting on bus shelters three years after funding for them was given to CARTA that those passengers track water all over the #10, #11 and other buses serving inland routes. Mud and dirt comes on board as well. On some buses, water gushing up through the corroded floor or pouring down through leaks in the roof saturates the interior as well. All regular transit buses are built to survive this treatment and regular transit type buses serve beaches and damp passengers all over the planet and all up and down the East Coast, just like they do when CARTA's passengers step on board after being drenched in the Freezing Rain in February.
|Beach bus for CARTA, it's waterproof.|
The article goes on to say, "While additional service to area beaches may be an eventual possibility, it’s not feasible in the immediate future," Brock wrote in an email. "Financially, there is no available funding in the system budget for that sort of expansion."
|Another option for Folly Road.|
More recently they’ve built on that mythology by concocting a nightmare scenario for 12 years from now where money from the first half penny sales tax passed in 2004 runs out and CARTA continues a skeleton operation using the by then greatly diminished in value remaining dollars to continue a skeleton system on a starvation budget.
Mr. Brock works for Rawl Murdy, CARTA's PR firm. Evidently Mike Seeking’s, the board Chairman wasn’t comfortable making these statements to the press since he may be trying to get elected Mayor of Charleston or be seeing reelection to Charleston City Council. CARTA Executive Director Ron Mitchum (pictured right) chose not to go on the record as well.
The simple fact is that communities up and down the East Coast of the United States, outside of South Carolina, which has failed to shake the plantation / segregation legacy of barriers to beach access, run bus service to their beaches. Each of these transit authorities struggles with funding issues. None of them need a special waterproof bus.
- You can take the bus to Jacksonville Beach from downtown Jacksonville.
- They have a bus from downtown Wilmington, NC to Carolina Beach.
- You can take a bus from Norfork, VA to Virginia beach.
- In Delaware you can take the bus from Georgetown to Rehoboth Beach
Next week, many of the people who control CARTA and our local governments will be enjoying the July 4th. Holiday at their family’s beach houses, which most of them have enjoyed for generations. When they had African American maids to sweep their floors and cook their meals, they were careful to have bus service running to Sullivan’s Island and the Isle of Palms. That bus service disappeared with the cheap labor which used to wash the sand out of their bathing suits.
|Transit outreach on Sol Legare Isalnd, on Folly Road.|
The gates which once barred African Americans from our beaches disappeared with segregation, but Charleston’s political leadership perpetuates a view of the world where the quality of life of ordinary people isn’t regarded as significant. The hundreds of help wanted signs now found in nearly every shop and restaurant window indicate that working people understand this and are increasingly finding other places to live. Disasters like the shooting at a downtown Restaurant last summer which hired a dishwasher without a background check, show the high costs of decisions based on these outdated values.
We’ve fought to get public transit back to Charleston area beaches for the last three years not because it is the most important thing, but because of what it means. It tells the community and transit riders that some people shouldn’t have a high quality of life and those people include people who ride our buses. That’s acceptable to some of the people who control our local governments and transit authority, but it’s not acceptable to us.
On July 1 we’ll hold a Freedom Fish Fry at the Island Breeze at Mosquito Beach and on July 14 we’ll invade Folly Beach for Bastille Day at the Beach to begin the transit revolution. We’ll continue the fight for the transit service we were promised for our half penny sales tax money until we have it.