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Americans for Transit to discuss need for improving public transportation in Charleston

Source: Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit Source: Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit
Source: Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit Source: Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit

Americans for Transit and Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit came together to express their concerns with public transit in the Charleston area and the need to improve it.

Americans for Transit is a national nonprofit that works to strengthen, create, and unite grassroots transit rider organizations across the United States. Best Friends of the Lowcountry Transit is an organization based in North Charleston that promotes public transit improvement locally including a Bus Rapid Transit system. 

Voters in Charleston County have a role in the future of public transit in our area. If the half-cent sales tax referendum is passed next week, it could provide up to $600 million dollars to improve the transit system. 
The organizations say the purpose of calling the meeting is to talk about the concerns they have with the way elected officials and representatives of some advocacy groups are addressing public transit. They would like to see a more progressive system. 

Mary Smith rides the CARTA buses and she has to get on the bus three hours before her classes start to make sure she's on time.

"All of us transit riders, we deserve better," Smith said.

With the aging CARTA buses, and dwindling routes which can lead to a decreased ridership, the Executive Director of Americans for Transit, Fabricio Rodriguez, say there needs to be improvements. 

"Public transportation is key to people's lives, it gives them mobility, it gives them access to jobs, it keeps them connected to their families and it improves the environment," Rodriguez said.

He's also helping lead the local Transit Complete the Penny Campaign. It's a grassroots campaign working to encourage Charleston County voters to vote yes to a half-cent sale tax referendum. Of the $600 million for transit in the referendum, $250 million would go towards a Bus Rapid Transit system.

Executive Director of, Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit, William Hamilton, and his team have worked to get public transit funding on the sales tax referendum he's also part of the Complete the Penny Campaign.

"Help us make these promises stick," Hamilton said. "We can't depend on these people to run a proper transit system we need to make them do it."

The Bus Rapid Transit system is similar to a light rail, but with wheels, because it has its own lane of travel. The route proposal is from Summerville to the Charleston area and would travel along highway 78 and 52 among other routes.

"There are thousands of residents that are moving into the city of Charleston every year and the only way we can move it forward is to incorporate public transit into what we do in our daily lives," Representative for the Amalgamated Transit Union, Anthony Garland said.

Bus riders are hoping for a changes in transportation.

"Everyday when I'm on the bus I look around at my fellow transit riders and see the worry and frustration on their faces," Smith said. "They worry if they are going to make it to their destination on time."

For more information on proposed routes of the Bus Rapid Transit system click here

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