The new North Area Shuttle connecting the airport, the Old Village of North Charleston and downtown Charleston will get a $50,000 boost from Tanger Outlets.
NASH service to the Holy City, one of four CARTA express routes, began in mid-February. It links the airport, the North Charleston Visitor Center, Tanger Outlets and the Charleston Visitor Center. The cost is $3 one-way.
Free local NASH service connects the airport, Boeing, Tanger Outlets, Park Circle and the Old Village. It has been operating for several months.
In the past 30 days, both the free and pay NASH services combined have drawn 1,100 riders, officials said.
In February, the NASH express route had 291 riders and averaged one passenger per hour. The average cost per passenger was $36.21, according to a Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority report presented at last week's board meeting.
"We haven't pushed it. We weren't really ready as far as the marketing is concerned," said CARTA Board Chairman Elliott Summey.
The most successful CARTA express service, the James Island to North Charleston route, averaged 20 passengers per hour last month. Its average cost per passenger was $1.91.
Tanger joins the Charleston County Aviation Authority, Charleston County and Boeing in sharing the annual $900,000 cost for NASH.
The $50,000 from Tanger is provided under a one-year contract with an option to extend the deal, officials said.
"The feeling on both sides is that it will be an ongoing agreement. This was just a first step," said CARTA spokesman Daniel Brock.
Tanger Outlets General Manager Penny Benton, Summey and CARTA Executive Director Christine Wilkinson will discuss the NASH service and partnership with Tanger in a press conference at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the North Charleston Visitor Center.
The local NASH service follows the Downtown Area Shuttle, a highly-successful free shuttle serving Charleston tourist destinations.
When the NASH express service was announced, cab drivers who compete for airport business did not welcome the news. The Aviation Authority recently approved a 17 percent price hike for taxi passengers at the airport at the request of the Charleston Airport Association of Limo and Taxi Drivers, who wanted the higher rates to match the cost-of-living increase since rates were last set in 2005.
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