Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Reach the Beach Bus Gaining Traction- Report from the Route

Shuttle Stop on Isle of Palms
Mt. Pleasant, SC - June 1, 2021

Members of Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit rode the new Reach the Beach Shuttle on all three days of its initial weekend of operation, spoke to other riders and checked online input. While there were a few bumps, people like the service and planned to return with friends and family in the weekends ahead. We think CARTA is going to need a bigger bus.

General, updated information on the Reach the Beach Shuttle

Most importantly, despite apparently incomplete driver preparation, the three bus routes connected reliably with the #40 bus route connecting directly with the Reach the Beach Shuttle all three times we were on board as intended. You use the #40 bus to connect with downtown Charleston at the Mary Street Transit center and the rest of the CARTA system. The #42, when it is running, connects with North Mt. Pleasant. Not all the drivers working understood what was intended, but they had figured the necessary connections out and made sure it was working by Sunday. Once you are on board the #40 to Mt. Pleasant, your chances of reaching the beach are good.

Weirdly, you’ll have a short wait on the mainland at Town Center when traffic to the beach isn’t backed up since the route is timed for congested conditions. On Saturday, our Beach Shuttle took off immediately after the #40 Mt. Pleasant Bus and #42 Wando Connector bus reached Town Center, but on Sunday when it was overcast and traffic was light, we had about a 15 minute wait. Standing time on the Isle of Palms is always very short on this route.

Shuttle Stop at Mt. Pleasant Town Centre
There were nagging problems with GPS tracking, internet wayfinding and getting ETAs using Google Transit and the Transit App on Saturday. There were times the Reach the Beach shuttle didn’t display on the Transit app at all and other times where it was showing as scheduled, without live updates. This had improved a lot by Monday. We saw most people on the shuttle using the app, so making online bus tracking and ETA’s reliable is becoming critical to the success of this transit system. New riders are coming to transit with a smart phone in their hand and rely on it to sustain the confidence needed to ride.

Something seems wrong with the online version of the shuttle schedule for Sunday, which shows a half hour wait at Town Center where there shouldn't be one. The shuttle schedule should be shifted to connect directly with the #40, which runs a different schedule on Sundays and Holidays from Saturday. 

The Midi medium sized bus chosen for the service was very clean and fully up to date with on board screens displaying ride progress, but it did lack a bike rack which was desired by some riders. Hopefully as ridership grows a full sized electric Proterra bus with a bike rack will be provided.

Report from the Route

Chris Jackson boarding in Mt. Pleasant
We ran three test rides with other passengers over the weekend. On Monday and Sunday, we took some of the young people who have worked with us over the years to the beach. They had a great time and were working on recruiting their neighbors to join them next weekend from where they lives along the #10 bus route in N. Charleston. On Sunday we took two volunteers with the feeding the homeless effort out to IOP. Neither of them had been to the beach in years and they both had a great time. On our way back, other passengers started singing wheels on the bus, which we managed to get a second round of recorded. One of the other passengers was astounded by the view from the elevated seats at the back of the bus. He had driven out to the beach many times, but spent those trips fixated on the bumper in front of him. The bus provided an opportunity to look out at the waterway, marches, creeks and sounds which are visible from the connector.

We’re planning Reach the Beach Trips from other locations on the CARTA system with paid fare, drinks and lunch for those who ask for assistance. We’ll be making a special Open the Ocean for Kids effort to get groups and families to the beach whose children may not have been to the beach before. Trips from the Recycled Love Thrift Store on Remount Road in N. Charleston on June 19 and a mammoth ride from Summerville on June 26 are already scheduled. A ride from West of the Ashely and the Pink House Neighborhood resource center is in planning. All rides can be joined along the way in Downtown Charleston and at other locations along the routes used.

Monday, we learned that a lady we leafleted earlier in the weekend went out to the beach for the first time in 35 years. She had stopped going when her husband died back in the 1980s. On Monday she took her grandchild with her for his first visit to the ocean.

A lot of people took the shuttle out to the beach for only one hour, checking it out for family visits in the future. Most of these people were parking at Mt. Pleasant Town Centre.

Public Response and Plans for the Future

Pathway to Beach from IOP Stop
We’ve followed public reaction to the service online. Most people are enthusiastic about the service. They recognize that no matter how much parking is opened up near our beaches, a Metro area with 830 thousand people headed towards a million with the arrival of a bus load of new residents every day can’t manage to provide a way for everyone who wants to to drive to the beach. 

A lot of people were on CARTA for the first time and had a positive experience. Everyone on board agreed it was far less stressful than fighting the traffic on the connector. They arrive at the beach happier and had less to dread on their trip home. There are still people bitterly angry that not everyone choses to go to the beach the way they do, with hundreds of pounds of gear. They apparently don’t understand that when we decide to “Be Like Chloe (Video)” travel light and ride the bus that we’re conserving parking spaces for them. Many people in our area have a massive emotional investment in their vehicles and the power they provide.  They’re not interested in the freedom and happiness of others if a change diminishes their relative power.


The stop at the beach does need some shade and seating, however it is not as bad as it looks. In the afternoon, the adjacent house throws its shadow across the path and nearly everyone has a chair with them. Unfortunately, this shaded location doesn’t provide a clear view of the direction from which the bus arrives.

Folly Beach

We’ve had a lot of people ask about Folly beach. Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit did conduct a Spring and Summer long campaign to bring transit to Folly Beach in 2018 which helped get the Folly Road bus line extended miles closer to the actual beach and to a new stop on Sol Legare Island at the Harris Teeter. We continue to leaflet people at Folly to raise awareness and build support. We haven’t given up, but getting to Folly won’t happen unless the shuttle to IOP gets strong support.

We believe that as the Summer heats up, usage of the Reach the Beach Shuttle will increase through June, July and early August before the rainy weather begins. It’s a great way to reach the beach, reliable and stress free. Parking at Town Centre should be sufficient and it looks like most people will use it as a park and ride service to the beach, however the real payoff for the community is Opening the Ocean for everyone with access to the CARTA bus route.

We look forward to that success and celebrating the Opening of the Ocean at 11 am on the Isle of Palms on July 17 when Thomas Dixon hurls the key to the sea into the ocean. We’re looking for someone with a Kayak and kiteboard to help carry the key all the way out into the deep, so it stays there as we hope our new Reach the Beach Shuttle stays to bring thousands of people to the beach in this and future summers.

Comments, Input and Supporting Our Work

If you have comments or input, you can email Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit Executive Director William Hamilton at wjhamilton29464@gmail.com or call him at (843) 870-5299. You can support our efforts by donating online through Act Blue at https://secure.actblue.com/donate/best-friends-of-lowcountry-transit--inc--1?fbclid=IwAR2LGKxdmMUqJKvcGZGKYPlZKfC0qfcvvk5SyqC0M1FAzs3556LTDvSSEi0

Monday, May 31, 2021

Summerville to the Sea 5/26- Bus Trip

Summerville to the Sea Bus Trip

Saturday, June 26, 2021 - Juneteenth Plus a Week

For more info contact William Hamilton, Executive Director of Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit at (843) 870-5299.

Summerville, SC- You are invited to join the Dorchester Unit of Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit as they complete their Juneteenth commemoration with an epic Transit demonstration pilgrimage to the beach at the Isle of Palms from downtown Summerville, on Saturday, June 26 starting at 9:30 am. You can join them anywhere along their trip to the sea or follow the entire effort online.

General information on the Reach the Beach shuttle

They’ll begin their pilgrimage on Hutchison Square in downtown Summerville at 9:30 am and carpool 9.3 miles through a stop at Lincolnville Town Hall (where more riders will join) and on to the CARTA park and ride facility at Melnic Dr. in N. Charleston. There, they will board the south bound #10 Rivers Ave. Bus at 10:10 am. They’ll transfer in Downtown Charleston at the Mary Street Transit Center (where anyone who likes is welcome to join the Journey) at 11:15 am to continue on the #40 Mt. Pleasant Bus which will take us out to Mt. Pleasant Town Center/Market Center Drive (where again you can join the ride) to board the Reach the Beach Shuttle at 12:17 pm which will finally arrive at the Ocean at 12:40 pm. See the full trip on Google Transit. https://goo.gl/maps/pH78c9K5G1sDWgQw6  

At the Isle of Palms, we’ll swim, have a picnic, build transit oriented sand castles and enjoy the afternoon before boarding the Beach Shuttle at 4:15 to begin the trip home, which will reach the Melnic Park and Ride at 7:10 pm. See the return trip on Google Transit https://goo.gl/maps/zEAbYzcsJA9uBLMK9


Beach shuttle stop at Mt. Pleasant Town Centre
If you can’t join the trip, you can follow the journey on Social Media through www.bfltransit.com. You can reach the group by telephone at (843) 870-5299. They’ll be turning nearly six hours on a total of six different buses into quality time with games, fun and discussion connecting via the buses free 5g Internet with the national transit equity community as well as the Lowcountry. Our theme song for the day will be selected by a public poll, we’ll be stenciling special T Shirts and at the beach we’ll plant a special flag to mark success in our six year effort to return transit to the Atlantic, Summerville to the Sea. Children who complete the trip will be awarded one of our Polynesian bone fish hook pendants given to participants in our Open the Ocean for Kids effort.

Walkway to Beach from Bus Stop
Total bus fare for an adult will be four dollars round trip, Senior citizens over age 55 will be two dollars, Charleston County Students, children under age 6, CofC Students, MUSC Students and Staff are all free. For those dealing with economic challenges, Best Friends will be providing free bus fare, drinks and lunches for the day. There are free showers and toilets on the Isle of Palms. If you would like to support the effort, tax deductible donations can be made through act blue online at You can contribute to the support of this effort online on Act Blue at https://secure.actblue.com/donate/best-friends-of-lowcountry-transit--inc--1?fbclid=IwAR2LGKxdmMUqJKvcGZGKYPlZKfC0qfcvvk5SyqC0M1FAzs3556LTDvSSEi0 

This effort is sponsored financially partially by the Amalgamated Transit Union and a number of local unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

As our transit system currently exists, this trip is barely possible and still requires a 9.3 mile drive in an automobile because unreliable LINK Transit from Summerville to N. Charleston does not operate on the weekends or holidays when the Reach the Beach Shuttle is available.

The Dorchester Unit of Beast Friends of Lowcountry Transit is campaigning actively with efforts in from Dorchester to Washington, DC to have the original 2015 plan for the Bus Rapid Transit line approved by Charleston County voters in the Nov. 2016 referendum restored which brought rapid trainst all the way to downtown Summerville. The current, deeply compromised plan ends the transit line at the Fairgrounds on Highway 78 in Ladson and ceases to be rapid transit with the end of dedicated busways in N. Charleston just South of Reynolds Ave.

Shuttle stopped at Isle of Palms
Summerville Transit Activist Linda Saylor estimates that even after LCRT is built as currently proposed and operating, this same trip will still take: 68 minutes walking and travel on LINK (based on existing weekday service, assuming it Runs on the weekends then) to reach the Fairgrounds from downtown Summerville; Forty-five minutes on LCRT to Huger Street in Downtown Charleston and One hour and 8 minutes from Huger Street in Downtown Charleston to the Beach, a total of 181 minutes or three hours. Of course, after three hours riders will have to head to the bathroom before they reach the beach, a walk of nine more minutes.

This ride is one of several planned by Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit this summer to help bring transit riders to the beach. Among those joining the rides will be families and children who seldom and sometimes have never seen the sea as part of their Open the Ocean for Kids effort

For more information on the effort, see they hyperlinked version of this information release at https://tinyurl.com/sville2sea . You may also call William Hamilton, Executive Director of Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit at (843) 870-5299.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

 Make our New Isle of Palms Reach the Beach Bus Fare Free and Open the Ocean for Everyone


From Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit, Inc
To SC Press and Media

Release May 20, 2021

At the May 19th. CARTA Board meeting, Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie announced that the Town of Mount Pleasant was prepared to pay half of the Sixteen Thousand Dollar cost of making the planned Summer CARTA Beach Reach Shuttle between Mt. Pleasant and the Isle of Palms fare free. The City of the Isle of Palms had apparently considered paying the balance, but as of the meeting had either decided not to do so or was still considering it.

Image, above, right Outreach in N. Charleston's "Macon" district helped begin an outreach effort which has already reached 12 thousand potential transit riders with information about the Reach the Beach Shuttle.

On January 31, 2021, the Isle of Palms showed a balance of Two Million, Forty Thousand and Two Hundred and Three Dollars ($2,040,203) in its accommodations tax fund for tourism development on hand, almost all of which was paid by visitors to the beach. See ATAX Agenda for Feb. 2021. https://drive.google.com/file/d/11iQk4jJVWk6zJ4Tf_aQPbTk2HB5nKoW9/view?usp=sharing Making the beach shuttle more successful will improve everyone’s beach experience this summer, even if you drive to and park at the beach. 

During the CARTA board meeting, It was suggested that other municipalities such as the City of Charleston or North Charleston might step up to contribute the balance needed. 

Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit supports the effort to make the beach shuttle fare free. We call upon the City of Isle of Palms and other area governments and business associations to pitch in the additional Eight thousand dollars to make the last leg of the transit trip to the beach fare free. We also believe benches need to be installed at the temporary bus stop on the Island which lacks shade and is two blocks from the town center where shade and seating is available.

Image, Right, Transit Outreach West of the Ashley, May 18.

A family of transit riders traveling from N. Charleston or West Ashley will need an hour or more on the bus to reach Mount Pleasant Town Centre where they can transfer to the Beach shuttle. Since those trips require a transfer from other lines such as the St. Andrews of Rivers Ave. Bus to the Mount Pleasant #40 bus, those riders will have to pay another Two Dollars over the original Two Dollar fare they’ve already paid for the first two legs of their trip just to complete the last, short run out to the Isle of Palms.  In many cases, people using the system for the first time or not fully understanding the fare structure, may discover they lack change to pay and won’t have time to leave the bus to obtain change, meaning an hour wait for the next bus.

This last year has been an incredibly difficult one for our community. Some transit riders worked through the entire pandemic. Other transit riders have been returning to work in our critical tourism and medical sectors.  Bus ridership has already doubled over a year ago. Many of these people work two jobs. On their rare weekend or holiday off, we need to do everything we can to make their family's precious trip to the beach easy. Best Friends is already organizing transit beach outings for these children and families, many of whom have never been to the beach, despite living in the Charleston area for a lifetime.

Full details on the Reach the Beach Shuttle can be found at https://bfltransit.blogspot.com/2021/02/bus-to-beach-2021-unlock-ocean.html

Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit will continue its Open the Ocean effort is support of this new transit service with a multicultural community block party called Sea Island Luau at the Pink House Playa on Saturday, May 22 from 4 to 7 pm at the Pink House Neighborhood Resource Center West of the Ashely and a Bus to the Beach Barn Jam at Awendaw Green on Wednesday. The effort has already reached 12 thousand potential transit riders. 

Our new beach shuttle service is the result of a six year community effort to return transit to the Atlantic and open the ocean. It should be a celebration for better things to come offered to the community in a way which will assure its success.

For more information contact Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit Executive Director William Hamilton at (843) 870-5299 or wjhamilton29464@gmail.com 

 

End End End

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Return the Rapid to Summerville May 13

Thur., May 13, 2021 at 6 pm
Council Chambers 200 S. Main St.
Summerville, SC 29483

Facebook event signup

Join the Dorchester Unit of Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit on May 13, 2021 at 6 pm for the regular Summerville Town Council meeting to demand an effort be made to restore Summerville’s connection to the planned rapid transit system to Charleston and to improvements to existing LINK service and the installations of functional bus stops in downtown Summerville. If you can, speak during the public comment period and hand up your written comments to the members of Town Council. Please bring 8 copies of your input, one for each member of council, one for the Mayor and one for the Clerk. We would love to have a copy as well. 

Train service between Summerville and Charleston ended in the early 1960s after operating for nearly 130 years. The station near Hutchison Square was demolished. Planning for a rapid transit system between Summerville and Charleston started in the 1990s. Charleston County voters decided to build a bus rapid transit system between Charleston and Summerville in the 2016 half penny sales tax referendum.

Currently being controlled by the Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester Council of Governments (BCD COG), over 8 million dollars has already been spent on planning and design. Without public notice or a vote by any elected official, a decision was made to end the transit system at the Fairgrounds on Highway 78 a few months ago. Local officials claim they learned about this in an email. There is no record of Summerville Town Council ever voting on this issue.

Large areas of Summerville are in Charleston County
One of the reasons cited for abandoning at transit link to Summerville is that it isn't in Charleston County. This is of course, untrue. Large parts of Summerville are now in Charleston County inhabited by citizens who voted for this Transit system and have been paying sales taxes to build it. See graphic at right. 

We know, from visiting these areas that people there want the rapid transit line to reach their area. 

The transit line can reach Summerville without ever leaving Charleston County, provided it goes as far as Lincolnville and the county line. People will be able to walk to it from downtown Summerville. The loser of course will be the downtown Summerville business district, which could boom by getting more business without more traffic. If the line doesn't reach downtown Summerville, that business district will have to compete with one which will grow up around the end of the line to the South.

The BCD COG is currently pushing for a plan which leaves Summerville, Lincolnville and most of Ladson off the Transit line with the goal of submitting it for federal approval in the next few months. Summerville will miss it's opportunity to have it's rapid transit connection funded by the Trillion dollar Federal Infrastructure stimulus bill and that money will go to other communities.


Summerville is supposed to get improved bus service to the fairgrounds. It currently takes 2.5 to 3 hours to reach Charleston on LINK and CARTA public transit, both currently operated by the BCD COG. Buses do not run on schedule. Buses often do not connect with each other in N. Charleston leaving riders with a half hour or longer wait. Stops on the Summerville to N. Charleston route are unmarked. Read Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit's report on the bus service between Summerville and N. Charleston.  

No service from Summerville to N. Charleston on link will be available to take Summerville and Lincolnville residents to the Beach this summer since LINK doesn’t run those lines on Holidays or Weekends when the CARTA beach service runs to the Isle of Palms.

We've prepared a list of things you can do to try to get the Summerville Transit connection restored. 

Ladson, Lincolnville and the parts of Summerville in Charleston County voted for and are paying for rapid transit. That promise should be kept. 

If you would like to be on our mailing list to get updates on this and other Lowcountry Transit issues use this form.

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Saturday, May 1, 2021

HOP #7 Food and Beverage Workers Bus to be Suspended May 8

We were dismayed to hear that the delayed decision to suspend operation of the HOP bus which was designed to help Food and Beverage Workers would go into effect on May 8. 

Community Outreach in N. Chareleston
We never felt the grass roots outreach to the rank and file workers by CARTA was fully effective. We've been doing outreach to F&B workers for years with our Benne Seed Initiative with State. Rep. JA Moore, but the lives of F&B workers leave them little time or energy to engage with the community. We've learned that traditional media such as local television and newspapers are almost useless in reaching this population. 

While the initial lot was adequate and had shelters, the one which replaced it as a building project took over the original lot was small and had no seating. The planned replacement lot is even further North on Mt. Pleasant St, by Joseph Floyd Manor and Santis and that project has been in the works for over a year. 

For people banging out plates of food to demanding customers every two minutes or faster, this pace of progress and quality of service wasn't acceptable. This with a lack of affordable housing, wages inadequate to meet the local cost of living and the general defects in our transit system is why local Restaurants and Hotels can't find the staff they need. Several major restaurant spaces are dark now because they can't find the staff to open.

You have to go talk to Food and Beverage Workers at the right time of the day and week (not when they're busy) and the back door is more important than the front door. Our Corps of Conductor's members called this reaching the grease bin since most restaurant deposit their use fry oil in a container by the back door.

When we were doing outreach downtown we often found workers side by side at the counter, one who had been riding the HOP for months and their coworker bitterly complaining about the cost of parking downtown, who didn't know it existed. With skeleton staffing at so many places now, it's even harder to have the sort of conversations which open up awareness of transit options. These are people living under incredible pressure, working difficult hours. 

Weak Transit is Crippling our Hospitality Sector

Charleston's staffing problems in its hospitality industry, which are aggravated by weak transit service and inadequate affordable housing within reach of work aren't going to be resolved by people who drive big cars to reserved parking spaces from comfortable homes. The city's basic behind the scenes political systems lack of attention to the quality of life of it's workers grows out of historic origins and dark restaurants, early closings and asking guests to make their own hotel beds will be the future unless there is major change.

Crippling the planned rapid transit line with by leaving it running in regular congested traffic below Reynold's Ave. in N. Charleston and turning the railroad line into the city over for dog walking means slow service and for restaurants and hotels, that may mean no service in many cases. 

West Ashely Bus Stop
We've been told the City decided to hand the railroad line over the Lowline greenway (the corridor is more than capable of accommodating both successfully) because they were told the appearance of a bus every 5 minutes would, "Diminish the User Experience." It brings to mind the cramped back passageways which allowed slaves to serve their masters without being seen 175 years ago which you can still see today in Charleston. Here are the details on the Low Line mistake.

The difference now, of course, is that the workers of Charleston are free (sort of) and they can choose other sectors and other places to work if they can't find a decent place to live or a reasonably quick ride home to their families after 8 or 12 hours on their feet serving visitors. We've met dozens of people during this pandemic who had worked for us for better transit and with the coalition of groups we participate in trying to get affordable housing who had simply decided to stop waiting and left to go live somewhere that had these things now. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Return the Rapid to Ladson, Lincolnville, Summerville and Sangaree Online Action Guide

Welcome to our online action guide which will give you updated one click links to more information and resources on how you can help return your rapid to Ladson, Lincolnville, Summerville and Sangaree. Background information on this issue.

You can download a printable PDF version of this document.

1. Call or write US Congressman James Clyburn and ask him to support a complete transit line from Summerville to Charleston as originally proposed in the 2015 I26 Alt Study as approved by the voters of Charleston County in the November 2016 referendum. Nearly the entire transit line is in Clyburn's district. Phone: (202)225-3315, Fax: (202)225-2313  Congressman Clyburn's contact information. Online form to contact the Congressman. 

2. Contact your other US members of Congress, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Senator Tim Scott (who sits on the infrastructure committee and Sen. Lindsey Graham. 202-224-3121 

3. Contact your County and Municipal Elected Officials and make sure they understand that you hold them accountable for honoring the promises made before the 2016 referendum. No private group of government employee can or should make their decisions for them.  Charleston County Council controls the local funding for the Rapid Transit project.

4. Contact your state legislators House and Senate and ask them to support construction and operation or real rapid transit in the Lowcountry. Find your state legislators and get their contact information.  Representative Marvin Pendarvis represents most of Ladson, Lincolnville and the Eastern part of Summerville (sometimes called Brownsville, on the Berlin G. Myers side of the railroad tracks). Pendarvis is working on this issue, but welcomes your ideas and expressions of support. He can't do this alone.

5. Demand notice of future Transit related meetings held by the COG or its associated organizations, including the CARTA Board. Download the form from Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit.

6. Attend meetings of the CARTA Board and LCRT Steering Committee, in person or online. The next meeting of the LCRT Steering Committee and the first public meeting of that committee will be on April 19, 2021 at 1 pm. This is the link to sign up for the April 19 LCRT Steering Committee meeting You must sign up using the link to monitor the meeting on zoom. You can also attend in person.

There is also a virtual Summerville Station Area Workshop later that same day on Monday, April 19, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. [Register Here!] regarding the Berlin G Myers station area

7. Ride local transit and get your kids to ride. They don't need rides everywhere, all the time. They can plan their trips with you on Google Maps Transit and use the Transit App on their phone to find out where their bus is and when it will arrive. Both CARTA and LINK are on both systems.

8. Support the Open the Ocean effort by Best Friends to make the new Shuttle to the Beach at the Isle of Palms work this summer. Help end the culture of mediocrity which is suffocating local transit effort. Make them so something right. Help get kids to the beach. Come to our events. Share information about the effort with people who might enjoy visiting the beach.

9. Fix Tri County Link. Contact local officials about reestablishing a publicly accountable board of directors for LINK.

10. Talk to your friends and neighbors about this issue. We cannot pave our way out of congestion. No community in the US has ever been able to do so. Without real rapid transit from Ridgeville to downtown Charleston we all face a future strangled by traffic congestion. You don't have to ride transit, but everyone needs it if we're going to get where we need to go.

11.Get on the Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit Email list.

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

Open the Ocean for Kids

Open the Ocean for Kids, will use our new public transit link to the Isle of Palms to make days at the Beach available for some who have never seen the sea. Our inland communities, mere miles from our beaches are home to many children who have never seen the Atlantic Ocean. 

Rev. April 30, 2021

State Rep. Marvin Pendarvis is the honorary leader of the effort. He's actively involved, but until the Legislature is out of session, William Hamilton (843) 870-5299 or wjhamilton29464@gmail.com is handling organizational work. 

This effort is sponsored financially partially by the AFL-CIO and a number of local unions. You can contribute as well online on act blue at https://secure.actblue.com/donate/best-friends-of-lowcountry-transit--inc--1?fbclid=IwAR2LGKxdmMUqJKvcGZGKYPlZKfC0qfcvvk5SyqC0M1FAzs3556LTDvSSEi0

Children designing a transit system in Summerville.
While it seems inconceivable to those of us who grew up going to the beach there are many, many 12 year olds living in Ladson, Lincolnville, Summerville, Goose Creek, Sangaree and North Charleston who have never heard the surf, seen the sea or crossed the inland waterway. There are seven year old children here who have never lived in a Charleston where travel to the beach on public transit existed since it ended in 2013 when CARTA can celled the poorly operated Island Flex Route. Regular, reliable operation of the beloved IOP bus route which ran from downtown Charleston through Mt. Pleasant and Sullivan's Island to IOP ended with the CARTA shut down of 2002.

Open the Ocean for Kids will attempt to bring children from our inland Lowcountry communities to the beach at IOP for swimming and other fun starting with Reach the Beach Day, Saturday of memorial weekend. We'll be working with churches, youth groups and community pools to prepare children with swimming lessons, organize buddies and safety teams and make sure that these kids are adequately equipped for the ocean with bathing suits, towels, snacks and hydration. This is not a simple undertaking. Any activity involving children is inherently dangerous and requires careful preparation and security arrangements against both human and natural risks. The beach is a wonderful place but it can become a dangerous hazard for an inexperienced person in seconds. No single person can every be alone with a child unless they are a proven member of their immediate family selected with approval of their parents. Maintaining these standards while making sure that kids have fun and return to their communities empowered and enriches is not, ironically “a day at the beach.”  We'll be working with established partners like Pink House Neighborhood Resource Center West of the Ashely. 

The official kickoff for the effort will be Sun, May 16th. Duppy Conqueror's Bus2Beach Party in 
North Charleston, SC. and we'll continue with trips to the sea for kids on an irregular basis when the buses are coming until the Opening of the Ocean on July 17.

Pink House Neighborhood Resource Center
Trips will begin at neighborhood bus stops on Summerville, Ridgeville, N. Charleston, Downtown and West of the Ashley. Our conductors and experienced water safety professionals will help the Kids reach the beach, enjoy the ocean, have a snack and get home safely. 

While planning and development of this program has been ongoing for a month and builds on existing community efforts, we can't yet say how many children we'll be able to take to the sea. For families wanting to go, the effort is easier. We'll begin the effort Memorial weekend with guided rides to the beach from major bus stops for family groups.

We're confident that several dozen kids will make the trip at least. We need social workers, teachers and other people certified and checked to work with children who can swim and work in the hot beach environment to help with this effort. Our goal is a two adult to four kid team supervision structure. 

For the children who make it, we have a recognition in the form of a traditional Polynesian bone fish hook pendant which will show they've made it through their swimming lessons, reached the beach and returned safely from the sea on transit. 

While we're proud of this important effort, we need to prepare the public for the careful way in which sharing it with them has to be conducted. We don't want to humiliate children or their families by revealing their identities to the community at large. Expect a lot of pictures of feet, sand pails and sand castles and few, if any images of faces. We have to put a face on the struggle of our community to share the shore with it's children without showing the faces or revealing the identity of those children struggling with extreme circumstances. 

Activist Milicent Middleton
We're still working out the cost for this program, but our provisional budget allots One Thousand Dollars for the effort, plus some in kind donations of things like towels, flip flops, swimsuits and sun hats. Most of the money will go for safety swimming lessons at community pools and bus passes. The children can travel on CARTA for free, but we'll need bus fare for their parents or caretakers. We're accepting donations now through act blue or you can contact William Hamilton at wjhamilton29464@gmail.com or (843) 870-5299.

Please return to this document for updates or subscribe to our mailing list.