Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Bus to the Beach 2021- Open the Ocean

Bus service to the Beach at the Isle of Palms is now running Weekends and Holidays to Labor Day.

In February 2021, the CARTA board approved establishing weekend bus service connecting the CARTA System (Rt. 40 & 42) with the front beach at the Isle of Palms. Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit, acting with national level support, wants to be sure this important transit equity victory, gets transformed into an enduring transit service that is used and valued and becomes a milepost on our journey to real, regional, rapid transit. 

Beach Service began
on Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend (May 29) and will run Saturday, Sunday, Memorial Day, July 4 until it ends on Labor Day. Plans are to run from Market Center Drive adjacent to Mount Pleasant Town Centre in Mt. Pleasant to the front beach district. 

This beach shuttle will connect to a parking lot and the regular #40 Mount Pleasant and #42 CARTA bus lines. Lines connecting with the #40 bus in downtown Charleston include the #10 Rivers Ave., #11 Dorchester Road and #30 Savannah Highway, among others.

You will be able to plan your trips to and from the beach using the Transit App or Google Maps, however until the service is posted to the system you can get an idea of what your trip is like by planning a trip to the existing CARTA bus stop at Hungryneck Blvd. and Theater Drive, near Mount Pleasant Town Centre'. Just click on this link for a ride from CARTA Superstop in N. Charleston or this link for a Ride from Citadel Mall. The beach service won't appear on Google unless you set your planned trip time for a date and time when it is running. If you check on Friday to plan a trip for Saturday without setting Google for Saturday, the system will return no service available. The beach shuttle should connect to the bus lines that stop there at a time when an immediate transfer is available. Video tutorial on Google Transit, which works for all CARTA and LINK trips.

Upcoming Events- You can view the upcoming events in our effort on Facebook.

Seven years of effort was invested into winning restoration of transit to the Atlantic at Charleston. What is called for now aren't petitions, demonstrations and attending meetings, but "butts on the Bus." We must fill these buses. Fortunately it's summer and we're going to the beach, so it's going to be a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, it's not going to free. Contribute to our support online. 

Keep Us Moving Forward! You can contribute to the support of this effort online on Act Blue at 
This effort is sponsored financially partially by the Amalgamated Transit Union and a number of local unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Project Update Time Line

July - New Island Stop location- CARTA and IOP have moved the bus stop East to the middle of the beach bsuiness district and closer to the county park, where showers and toilets are located. The map at the top of this post shows the new location. 

June 2- Guided Rides Announced
The first guided rides to help Open the Ocean for Kids, June 19 from Remount Road in N. Charleston and June 26 from Summerville are announced. See our upcoming events for a full listing.

June 1- Report from the Route our impression of the first weekend of operations with some pointers for riders.

May 29- Reach the Beach Shuttle begins running. The shuttle connects reliably to the #40 Mt. Pleasant CARTRA bus and parking is still freely available at Mt. Pleasant Town Center. Online tracking of the bus has been spotty, but is improving. We made trial runs for our Open the Ocean for Kids effort with both kids and some volunteers from the assist the homeless effort downtown with good results and the big trips to the beach are now being planned with the first announced for June 19 starting at 9:30 am from Recycled Love Thrift Store on Remount Road. 

May 27- First Open the Ocean for Kids ride announced. We're planning our first Open the Ocean for Kids outing on Saturday. If you want to ride along, we'll be departing from CARTA Superstop on the #11 at 11:57 am, connecting at
Wolf & Meeting Street downtown at 12:30 and arriving at IOP at 1:40 pm. This group consists of people who have worked with our organization and their children and will serve to work out the bugs and learn how to make future trips work better. Of course anyone can ride along on the public bus. We would like to roll in banging full if we can. Here is the trip.

May 22- Pink House put on a wonderful party for our bus to the beach effort. We met a lot of old friends and made some new ones.

May 21- Route now Fare Free. After our press release and some advocacy by our friends at the Town of Mt. Pleasant, our bus to the beach is now Fare Free.  IOP agreed to match the Town of Mt. Pleasant's 8 thousand dollar contribution. While the cost of the fare wasn't a major problem, we were concerned that people on board would discover they needed to pay again after trips from N. Charleston or West Ashely and not have change, meaning they would have to interrupt their trip to get change at Town Centre. 

May 19- Official CARTA announcement with rules for what can be taken on the bus.

May 17 & 18- BFLT Staff and volunteers began door to door outreach West of the Ashley. We've reached over 1200 households in areas known to have large concentrations of transit riders in the past four weeks as well as contacting over 10 thousand people at community events. 

May 12- Community Social Justice Partners invited to Pink House Event- Saturday, May 22, from 4 to 7 pm, Pink House and Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit will hold the “Sea Island Luau at the Pink House Playa” West of the Ashley to get the community ready to Open the Ocean when CARTA begins running bus service to the beach in Charleston for the first time in 7 years. Christian King, director of Pink House will be holding this event in the Oak Shaded back yard of Pink House West of the Ashely at 1551 Mulberry St, Charleston, SC 29407.

We’re inviting our community’s peace and justice partners to come table with ideas and activities so we can get to know each other again as we emerge from the Covid shut down. We’ll have food, music and children’s activities. All your organization needs to do is contact us to sign up and bring a table and some chairs. The yard is well shaded so pop up tents, while welcome, are optional.

Come share your plans and celebrate this victory or returning Transit to the Atlantic in our long struggle for social justice and equity in our region which we must continue together.  We have space for your art and music in this event if you like. The event in near the #30 Savannah Bus line. Get off at the stop near Pep Boys and walk back three blocks. Just call William Hamilton at (843) 870-5299 or email Full information on the event can be found at 

May 6 to 10- We reached over 2000 people in four days of intensive outreach throughout the region. ON Thursday we did outreach downtown focusing on the hospitality industry where guests are always looking for ways to reach the beach. Friday a team talked to people working at downtown businesses who often walk to work and don't have cars. On Saturday we had efforts operating on N. Charleston on Remount Road, in Summerville, West of the Ashley at Pink House and out at Folly Beach were we did some sidewalk leafleting. On Sunday we did outreach on the East Side of Charleston, South of Columbus. People are excited and positive. They want better transit to the beach and everywhere. 

Isle of Palms earlier this year
May 2- We did exploratory leafleting on the Isle of Palms
which of course is mostly people who drive there now. We got a great reception. Parking at the City and County Park Lots ran out about 1:30 pm. Parking at the County Park is now $15 per day.  Other private lots are still $10. Parking at the City lot is now done with a smart phone application. We used our experience to plan future outreach efforts of this kind. We visted the opening of Coconut Joes new Pina Colada bar, a patio type space between Coconut Joes and the Hot Dog Stand. It was very nice. We also visited the wonderful supporters we have in the front beach business district. 

May 1- Started Latino Outreach Effort- We're working with Diane Salizar to update our exiting Latino/Spanish Language outreach materials. We rode the #23 bus together and planned out outreach effort which will include Latino activities at the May 22, Sea Island Luau at the Pink House Playa event. Also did outreach downtown where a lot of people without cars live, use transit and want to reach the beach later this month.

April 27- Transit Advocacy at Charleston County Council- We attended Charleston County Council with members of CAJM to advocate for better transit and affordable housing. We pointed out that lack of places to live and mobility were driving the region towards a loss of young, capable service workers critical to our medical and tourism sectors. It was a heavy evening, but at least we were able to let everyone present know about the bus to the beach. 

April 16- Downtown Outreach- We began trail outreach downtown targeting younger service workers, hotels and Apartment buildings. We got an incredibly positive response. A lot of people pay high rents to live downtown, near work and have shed their cars. They want to beach and they're ready to ride the bus, for them a short hop on the #4 and the shuttle out to the beach. What we learned will be used for a major downtown outreach effort in the near future.

April 25- Outreach in Mt. P. and N. Chas. Members of Best Friend's of Lowcountry Transit's Corps of Conductors leafleted over 1000 people at the Blessing of the Fleet in Mount Pleasant and visited 300 homes in the "Macon" section of N. Charleston with State Rep. Marvin Pendarvis. 

April 24- Dial's Pizza Begins Promoting Open the Ocean
- Located at the Corner of Bogard and St. Phillip's Streets downtown, D'Allisandro's Pizza becomes our first community business partner to begin distribution of information about the Beach Bus Service to the community. We have an event planned for there on May 14.

April 21- Be Like Chloe! video goes online. Our meme about Jack slogging to the beach with a mountain of gear in his SUV and Chloe traveling light on the bus is now a video. View it on Facebook. 

April 21- Earth Day Effort- 300 Transit riders and 200 members of the public were leafleted with information on the new Beach service and the problems with the Rapid Transit plan. Work began   before dawn and covered several bus stops, parts of North Charleston and Downtown and the College of Charleston. Our target is to reach 30 thousand potential riders with the information about the beach service between now and July 17.

April 14- The first outreach effort set for April 25 in support of Open the Ocean has been set for Sunday, April 25 in N. Charleston, 4 to 6:30 pm and will be led by State Representative Marvin Pendarvis in the "Macon" and surrounding areas, operating from our popup tent at the Intersection of Spruill and Reynolds Ave. Volunteers are welcome. Full details on Facebook. This is part of the international Earth Day to May Day observance.

April 14- Windjammer Reopening Ocean Stage for National Acts
The popular IOP venue will be very active this summer bringing music and entertainment to the beach. Read the City Paper article. 

April 10, 2021- Events Updated
We have updates our events listings for the effort. As we work in the community, the events evolve and partners join to elaborate the activity. See the updated listings.

April 7- Key to the Sea presented to the public. The key to the sea was presented to the public at the Lincolnville Town Council meeting. This is the great, iron castle key which will be thrown into the ocean on July 17. The key is 13 inches long and rests in a custom made cherrywood case. After the original key is thrown into the sea, a second key will be placed in the box and it will be presented to the City of Isle of Palms as thanks for opening the ocean.

April 7, 2021-
ATU Grant Funding for Open the Ocean Effort- The international Amalgamated Transit Union has made a grant to cover core elements of the Open the Ocean Effort. The union was instrumental in the efforts to help pass the referendum in 2016 sending funding and highly skilled organizers to build up our local effort. We have been partners with them and the Union local here in the fight for better transit since 2012. The Local Transit Operators Union is the oldest union in South Carolina, representing transit workers here since the days when electric streetcars drivers worked around horses on Charleston's streets. Learn more about the ATU

March 30- Fundraising begins
. CARTA has failed to support bus service to the beach four times in the last twenty years. This time an empowered community is going to do the leg work for them. We need to raise 3,700 dollars to do this right. Choose the amount and part of the effort you want to support.. $300 has already been raised. You can contribute online trough Act Blue

March 29, 2021 - North Charleston, SC- SC State Representative Marvin Pendarvis (D-113, N. Charleston, Ladson, Lincolnville & Summerville) will serve as the honorary Chairman of Open the Ocean for Kids, the effort to bring local children to the beach on public transit this Summer being organized by Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit. Pendarvis will help bring the community together so children, can enjoy a safe, rewarding day at the shore. Read the detailed media release. 

March 27- Open the Ocean for Kids effort. We've published a detailed blog post on our plans to help kids reach the beach this summer on transit, including some local young people who have never seen the ocean. Read the detailed blog post. 

March 27- We've beginning to develop an element of the Open the Ocean effort focused on litter, recycling and a more sustainable beach experience for everyone. Cigarette buts can be collected and recycled along with other plastic trash and we're working out partnership to make sure the beach is clean and sustainable by reach the beach day Contact Claire Beazy with your ideas.

March 25- Demand Open Meeting Information- We've begun distributing a legal form written to comply with the SC Open Meetings Law which will allow anyone to demand formal notice of government meetings about public transit in the Lowcountry.  Read the details and download the printable PDF form at[UNIQID]

March 25- We have received CARTA's response to our FOIA request regarding the Beach Shuttle, once it's scanned to PDF and placed online, we'll schedule a Zoom to discuss the contents. 

March 17- CARTA board failed to deliver schedule and route map at meeting, promises something soon. We are increasing pressure for real, detailed information on how the route connects to the #40 and #42 routes, and through them to the entire CARTA system. 

March 15, 2021- Awendaw Green will welcome us for a free night of music the Wednesday, May 26 before bus service to the beach begins. We may be able to run a bus from Summerville so everyone can be together (in a socially distanced way.) Event listing on Facebook.

March 13, 2021- Be Like Claire-
Download a copy of our new Poster / Meme 
Download the image for posting on Social Media

Feb. 2021- The City of IOP has issued an official statement on the new service.  which includes a map of this proposed route. 

All events on the schedule can be found on our list of upcoming Transit Equity Events in the SC Lowcountry  You can also download a printable,  schedule for the effort at

The major effort will begin on May 4, Right to Ride Day, as part of our annual celebration of Mary Bower's 1867 successful effort to desegregate Charleston's horse drawn streetcars in 1867. Celebration events on River's Avenue on May 15 and at Pink House Neighborhood Resource Center on May 22 will follow. We'll Reach the Beach on Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend and mark the end of the campaign on July 17 when we Open the Ocean at the Isle of Palms. Events for the Hispanic/Latinx community and downtown Charleston are in development. 

Corps of Conductors doing Community Outreach

As part of this effort we'll be organizing rides to the beach for young people in our area who have never seen the ocean with preparatory swimming and safety lessons and appropriate community engagement. The first trips under this program will be held on Reach the Beach day.

We're also going to be handing out Masonite bus cutouts on May 16 for local artists to decorate in the tradition of Jamacian town buses. The painted and decorated cutouts will be returned at the Pink House event to be voted on by the public. The winning artist gets an all expense paid trip to IOP in the bus. 

Community outreach efforts began in Summerville on Feb. 22 at their black history event.  We plan to visit 3000 strategically identified households and contact another 10 thousand people at community events, farmer's markets and other celebrations in Summerville, North Charleston, Charleston, Daniel Island and Mt. Pleasant. Out reach will be conducted under the leadership of our professional Corps of Conductors, reinforced by volunteers and short term staff, including people recruited from our unemployed population and students. We'll be participating in local Juneteenth events in Summerville and other locations during the latter part of the effort. Will be present at Farmer's Markets, Concerts an Community Festivals as possible and appropriate while maintaining social distance. We have heavy duty gear, but it's hard to work with the public while wearing a biohazard hood.

Our Plan - This page will be our information hub for information on the new service and the tools you need to make it work for you. Google Maps, The Transit App and you smart phone are now your friends. However, we'll be doing a lot of proven, old fashion nose to nose (socially distanced) work. 

Children's Build a Lowcountry Transit System activity.

We're going to hold events, visit community festivals and do plane old door to door outreach in communities where we know need for beach access exists. Children who have never been to the beach will see the ocean for the first time. We'll deal with the scourge of bus pirates. In July, Rev. Thomas Dixon, leader of the July 18, 2015 march to the sea will lead us in riding out to the ocean, uniting the waters and then unlocking the ocean by hurling one fo the bronze keys to the ocean kept since 2015 into the sea. Then, of course, we'll have a party. All our upcoming events will be listed on our Facebook Page. 

Together We Go Forward! This effort will launch our next major campaign, to recover a plan for the Rapid Transit line which provides the reliable, high speed transit service from Summerville to downtown Charleston promised to voters before the 2016 Half Penny sales tax referendum, including restoration of service all the way to Downtown Summerville, dedicated transit lanes for the entire route within Charleston County and recovery of the historic rail line into Charleston's urban care for transit service. 

We'll update this page as plans evolve. If you have questions or want to offer input, contact William Hamilton, Executive Director of Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit at or call (843) 870-5299

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