Protest targets CARTA

George Hopkins joined the protest to inform the public and bus riders at the Mary Street Transit Center about the possibility of service cuts outlined in the new CARTA five-year-plan.

Robert Jenkins wore baseball-catcher shin guards and a Guy Fawkes mask as he stood on Mary Street to protest the leadership at the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority.

“I like to put the shin guards on in case the crowd takes on a life of its own,” Jenkins said.

There appeared to be little danger of that sort of rowdiness breaking out Tuesday afternoon as less than a dozen protesters gathered for peaceful public discourse about a perceived plight of the disenfranchised when it comes to public transit.

They handed out fliers at the Mary Street Transit Center that, among other things, called for the public to contact CARTA board Chairman Elliott Summey and attend upcoming CARTA meetings to protest transit cuts.

The protesters were upset about CARTA’s new five-year strategic plan because they said it includes the possibility of reducing service by 5 percent.

“It’s a question of fairness and equity in terms of how public services are allocated,” said George Hopkins, a retired College of Charleston professor. “We should not cut services to the least fortunate among us.”

Summey said the plan proposes to fine-tune service to better address the needs of riders on the most-traveled routes.

“We’re consolidating routes, not cutting routes,” he said.

The protesters also called attention to CARTA’s decision in its strategic long-term plan to not restore late-night bus service.

They wore red shirts that said, “Don’t X Out Public Transit.”

Jenkins said he is an unemployed graphic designer who does not own a car. Although the mask he wore is associated with the Occupy movement, Jenkins said the CARTA protest was not an Occupy Charleston event.

“I like to try to be as green as I can. I can be more healthy walking,” he said.