No entire bus routes will be slashed as a result of a comprehensive study of the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority. But some of them will be tweaked, and some stops will be cut — up to 5 percent of them on some longer routes.
CARTA officials on Tuesday are holding the first of four public meetings on the results of the Comprehensive Operations Analysis. The meetings, which will be held in Mount Pleasant, downtown Charleston, West Ashley and North Charleston, will include an overall presentation as well as time for questions on changes in the works for specific routes.
CARTA officials said the short-term plan, which was created as a result of the $275,000 study, will focus on making the existing system more efficient. It includes redoing bus schedules because more traffic congestion has slowed buses. Many buses now run late, they said.
It also includes changing two existing routes to provide better service across the region. There now will be a way to travel from Mount Pleasant to West Ashley without changing buses, as well as a way to travel from the Neck Area to the Medical University of South Carolina without having to transfer on Mary Street in downtown Charleston.
“By and large, people are going to have a better quality of service,” said Ron Mitchum, executive director of the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, the group that conducted the study and now is managing CARTA.
A deadline has not yet been set to implement the changes, Mitchum said. It likely will take a few months.
CARTA spokesman Daniel Brock said the initial goal is to provide consistent, reliable service. Once that’s achieved, CARTA will add more amenities, such as shelters and new equipment. After that, it will consider expanding service.
William Hamilton, a member of Hungryneck Straphangers, an East Cooper transit advocacy group, said his group is opposed to any cuts in service, and that includes cutting stops.
And he thinks service needs to be expanded now, such as adding routes to the beach. Currently area beaches can’t be reached by bus.
“It’s OK for Mary to take the bus downtown to scrub toilets during the week,” Hamilton said, “but it’s not possible for her to take the bus to take her children to the beach on the weekend.”
Mitchum said CARTA leaders are going to work hard to inform people about the upcoming changes to avoid confusion.
“Change is tough,” Mitchum said, “and it will be even tougher if you don’t manage it well.”
Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.