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Re-thinking transportation draws crowd to Sustainability Institute

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Re-thinking transportation draws crowd to Sustainability Institute

One of CARTA's low sulfur, clean diesel buses. The Sustainability Institute held an alternative transportation gathering on Thursday.

Getting around using electric, pedal and pedestrian power was the theme of an event Thursday night at the Sustainability Institute that drew those interested in lowering pollution from fossil fuels.

Institute member Pete Liska advocated for a passenger rail service connecting Charleston and Summerville.

"I think it would pay for itself," he said.

And he suggested closing King Street to vehicles from Broad to Calhoun streets to make it a place for walking and biking. Morning deliveries to business would still be allowed.

"In American cities, there's no reason why you can't do something different," he said.

About 50 people heard comments from entrepreneurs in the electric-powered public transportation business aiming to tap the Charleston-area market.

They included Gotcha Ride, a free open-air electric car service that has set up shop in university towns including Clemson. A spokesman said the company is working with the City of Charleston to provide the eco-friendly transportation here.

Also on display was a hybrid CARTA bus powered by electricity and diesel fuel. It is one of two diesel/electrics that CARTA uses on its North Area Shuttle from Charleston International Airport to downtown. The cost of the trip is $3 oneway.

"Traffic and commuting have become major concerns in our community," CARTA Interim Executive Director Jeff Burns told those in attendance.

CARTA has become an increasingly viable alternative for many commuters. Last year, the bus service had nearly 5 million riders, a new record, he said.

Cycling advocates from Charleston Moves were also on hand for the event. Some 90 percent of trips up to 3 miles happen by car, said spokesman Kurt Cavanaugh.

In recognition of pedal power, the Sustainability Institute held a "blessing of the bike rack" ceremony in front of its offices to unveil a new place for people to park two-wheelers.

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