HOP shuttle

One of CARTA's HOP shuttles at the new park-and-ride lot at 999 Morrison Dr. in Charleston.

Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority’s new hospitality shuttle in the first half of July exceeded the bus system’s overall on-time performance, but restaurant workers are still frustrated by the bus showing up late.

“This is ridiculous: You can’t rely on it,” Nasser Razmyar said on a recent Friday.

The Hospitality on the Peninsula (HOP) shuttle, which Razmyar hoped to catch that afternoon had fallen about 30 minutes behind schedule; he was still waiting for the bus at 3 p.m., when he was supposed to clock in for his shift.

Razmyar says he’s been late to work four times this month because The HOP didn’t arrive as promised.

“We’ve seen some timing issues, particularly during peak traffic periods, which in some cases are unavoidable,” CARTA spokesman Daniel Brock says. “It’s important to remember that buses sometimes have to sit in heavy Charleston traffic, like personal automobiles do.”

According to Brock, The HOP stuck to its posted schedule approximately 93 percent of the time between July 1 and July 14. The system-wide figure is currently 86.4 percent.

Still, Brock says CARTA is working to improve The HOP’s on-time performance by re-evaluating its route and making adjustments to reduce delays.

CARTA in April launched The Hop from a 175-space parking lot at 999 Morrison Drive. In a release announcing the park-and-ride service, City Councilman and CARTA board chair Mike Seekings described The HOP as “the first step in a regional strategy to tackle a number of pressing transportation issues, namely parking and congestion.”

Additionally, The Hop was designed as an affordable alternative to parking downtown. Passengers pay $5 to park in the Morrison Drive lot, and then ride the shuttle for free. It runs 84 times a day, leaving the lot every 15 minutes between 6 a.m. and 3 a.m.

Between July 1 and July 14, daily HOP ridership ranged from a low of 205 passengers on Independence Day to a high of 405 passengers on July 13.

Brock says the days during that period on which on-time performance dipped the lowest were the same days on which a more-than-usual number of branded HOP shuttles were out for repair. He recommends riders “always check the head sign of whatever bus they’re boarding,” in addition to tracking vehicles on the Transit app.

Finally, he says, “if (riders) do experience service issues, please reach out to CARTA so the situation can be addressed.” CARTA’s operations office can be reached at 843-724-7420 or 843-745-4101, but only during regular business hours.

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.