Planned Lowcountry Rapid Transit bus route gets critical approval from federal gov’t

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 6:03 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2022 at 8:28 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A planned 21-mile bus route connecting parts of the Lowcountry has received critical approval from the federal government that locks in key funding for the project.

Lowcountry Rapid Transit, a rapid transit bus route stretching from Ladson to the peninsula, has gotten the go-ahead from the Federal Transit Administration to move into an engineering phase. This approval is a benchmark officials said they have been waiting years for.

CARTA Chairman Mike Seekings said the FTA’s approval of the proposed line locks in the federal government’s commitment of $375 million, or about 60% of the total cost.

The rest of the money for the around $600 million route, when adjusted for inflation, will come from the Charleston County half-cent sales tax.

Seekings projects over two million riders per year will use the line and believes the number will grow as the area expands.

He also said it is the first large-scale transit project like this in the state’s history.

“Who would have thought just five years ago that we’d be standing here saying, ‘We are going to build, and it is funded, a large-scale transit project that would get people from outside of the peninsula to the core of the peninsula,’” Seekings said, “and all along that route, you will see transformation along every single mile for the better of this community.”

Seekings said project leaders will now look to hire an engineer to help design the bus route. Officials hope to break ground in the next two years and complete the line in 2028.