CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - This weekend marked the first few days of the pilot program for a beach shuttle between Mount Pleasant and the Isle of Palms.
While some say it’s a welcome addition for public transit, others want more to be done to provide free beach access to everyone.
The Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments and CARTA board members approved the pilot program for four weeks.
Currently, the shuttle runs during the weekend from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It starts at 1189 Sweetgrass Basket Parkway makes and stops on 14th Ave. and 28th Ave. on Palm Blvd.
CARTA officials say they cannot yet release the number of riders on the shuttle over the weekend.
Mount Pleasant Mayor and CARTA board member said he is excited to have the new service, but he also wants to see the bus run during peak tourist season.
“With short notice and this being kind of not beach season, I don’t want the success of this trial run to determine whether this continues or not,” Haynie said. “This is a good idea in the middle of the summer.”
Haynie also said he’s happy the shuttle connects the beach with other transit around the Lowcountry, but doesn’t want Isle of Palms or county leaders to see the bus as an alternative to the need for access to parking on the island.
“I voted for it because it is in addition to and not in replacement of public parking on the beach that issue continues on,” Haynie said. “But I view this as regional affirmation that more rather than less public access to our publicly owned beaches is a good thing.”
The Charleston Beach Foundation is currently pushing back on a number of recent parking restrictions to barrier islands.
Myra Jones, Charleston Beach Foundation Director, said the IOP shuttle does not do enough to address concerns surrounding the loss of available parking for beach access on the island.
“My first reaction was this was just a distraction by the Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island to take away from their plans for island-wide paid parking,” Jones said. “I think they should probably offer this for those people who can and would like to do this. Maybe on a limited basis. But for a family of four, it’s not feasible.”
Jones said she wants city and county leaders to instead open more free parking spots on the island.
Tuesday, the Isle of Palms public safety committee will consider eliminating parking on the landside of Palm Boulevard between 22nd and 40th avenues.
Isle of Palms mayor Jimmy Carroll responded to parking concerns saying Palm Boulevard presents a “big public safety issue” for the island.
“If one side of the road left open there’s room for more cars to pull over and allow emergency vehicles to go down the road,” Carroll said.
Tuesday’s city council meeting will start at 6 p.m.