Proposed CARTA route cuts draw criticism

Post and Courier file photo


A mix of community leaders, elected officials and residents asked CARTA on Monday night to put the brakes on its proposal to cut two routes on the Charleston peninsula.

They said not enough people know about the plan. At stake is No. 21 Rutledge Grove and No. 201 North Beltline.

“We got nothing. Nothing was mailed out. Every bus could have the meeting and the time,” said the Rev. John Paul Brown of Mount Zion AME Church.

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard said the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority needed to let people in public housing know about the possible cuts.

“When you look at the history of these routes, they mean a lot to a lot of people,” said Gilliard, D-Charleston. “You’re in the heart of an African American community. You’re in the heart of public housing. I would just say kindly don’t touch it because it’s going to cause a major uproar.”

Some wondered if the public hearing mattered. “This seems like the decision is already made,” Eric Jackson said.

CARTA Executive Director Christine Wilkinson said no decision has been made on eliminating the routes. A second public hearing on the issue will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday in Burke High School.

Some of those in attendance suggested that the Burke hearing be postponed until more people become aware of the possible elimination of service.

About 30 people attended the public hearing on the issue Monday at Trident Technical College Palmer Campus. Several of them said the hearing needed more promotion to reach those who would be affected.

By cutting No. 21 Rutledge Grove and No. 201 North Beltline, CARTA said it will make No. 20 King Street/Citadel more efficient by assigning more buses to the route and increasing their frequency. The CARTA board must approve any route cuts.

Route No. 201 loops around the outer peninsula while route No. 21 provides service on the inner peninsula. The routes are being considered for elimination because not enough people ride them, said Jeff Burns, CARTA transportation planner. The free DASH bus service on the peninsula has reduced riders on the pay routes, he said.

If the Nos. 201 and 21 are eliminated, there are other routes within a reasonable walking distance that can handle passengers affected by the change, he said.

Mobility-impaired riders who can’t make it to a new bus stop can call the CARTA Tele-A-Ride service, he said.

Some 3,290 people rode the Rutledge Grove route through March of this year. It had an average of 10 passengers per hour, which is about half of what it needs to be considered on target, according to CARTA.

The North Beltline drew 2,478 riders through March, and seven passengers per hour, which is about 10 riders per hour short of where it needs to be.

Each route had less than 1 percent of CARTA riders.