Bus riders want more

George Willingham signs a petition Wednesday calling for more federal funding of public transit and construction of a new train and bus station in North Charleston. Willingham said more bus service is needed. He was at the bus stop at Rivers and Cosgrove avenues.

North Charleston High School senior Candace Cromwell, who relies on the bus to get to a part-time job, wishes it ran later at night on Remount Road.

“Not enough bus service. More frequent and more bus service,” she said.

Cromwell said she sometimes doesn’t get off work at Tanger Outlet until 9 p.m. By then, the bus has stopped running and she walks home for about 45 minutes on Remount Road.

“Miss one bus and you’ve got to wait a whole hour,” she said.

George Willingham, who works for a firm at the former Charleston Navy Shipyard, agreed that more service is needed. “It’s not enough hours,” he said.Some days, he gets off work at 4 a.m. but the bus doesn’t run until 6 a.m., he said.

On Wednesday, Willingham signed a petition calling for “functional transit” for Charleston County that would include restoration of late-night service and preservation of current service levels.

Charleston mass transit activists William Hamilton and Dave Crossley handed out leaflets at the Cosgrove and Rivers avenue bus stop that, among other things, called for the public to contact Elliott Summey, chairman of the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority board, and attend upcoming CARTA meetings to protest possible transit cuts.

The protesters were drawing attention to CARTA’s new five-year strategic plan because they said it includes the possibility of a 5 percent service cut.

Hamilton said a transportation system based on cars is out of reach for increasing numbers of residents. “The next generation is simply not going to be able to sustain the automobile,” he said.

Summey said in an interview that the new CARTA five-year-plan is not about cutting service but rather making it more efficient. It is about putting CARTA on a solid financial footing so it will always be around.

CARTA is protecting essential services for people who rely on the bus for things such as medical care and groceries, he said. “I have to make sure CARTA is going to be there,” Summey said.

He suggested that Hamilton’s protest of the CARTA plan is related to issues such as Summey switching to the Republican Party and his anti-union stance. “This has become about politics for William. It’s starting to feel that way,” Summey said. “He’s doing a disservice to the system.”

In response, Hamilton said, “That’s a nice theory.”

Hamilton described his efforts as part of a “long difficult process of making sure people who ride transit get heard.”