Wednesday's sunny, 60-degree weather was ideal for bus riders across the Charleston region.

But Delores Kesler, 65, of North Charleston knows full well that's not always the case. As she waited on the bus that would take her to her job downtown, she remembered times when she had to endure a pouring rain.

"It was awful," she said.

Along with other upgrades, the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority is constructing 62 new bus stop shelters across the region — the most ever built at one time.

By making increasing the visibility of bus stops and offering riders more shelter, CARTA hopes its investment will pay off with an increase in ridership.

Last year, its ridership was just over 3 million, according to spokesperson Daniel Brock.

CARTA board Chairman Mike Seekings said the organization expects to experience a natural climb in ridership caused by the region's explosive population growth and worsening traffic jams.

The new additions will bring CARTA's number of sheltered stops to 159 stops, but that's still just a fraction of the 851 stops along its many routes.

Seekings said some stops can't accommodate a shelter, but he said the organization intends to build them wherever it's practical.

CARTA Bus Shelter

CARTA just opened a bus shelter on Folly Road, at Camp Road, on James Island. The organization is constructing more than 60 shelters this fall around the Charleston area. Brad Nettles/Staff

In some cases, benches may be added at several bus stops currently marked by only a CARTA sign.

“My goal is to make sure we get toward the number zero in the amount of stops with just a sign," Seekings said. 

The $600,000 shelter projects are being funded by CARTA, alongside other city and state funds secured with help from former North Charleston City Councilman Ed Astle and state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, Seekings said.

Most recently, CARTA opened a new shelter on James Island at Camp and Folly roads. Others will be built along Dorchester Road and in Mount Pleasant, downtown Charleston and other places.

Charles Simmons, who waited at the sheltered Cosgrove Avenue bus stop on Tuesday for a ride to an art class downtown, said the peninsula is filled with shelters. He hopes more shelters and benches are constructed at stops along the south end of Rivers Avenue.

"Places like this need it," he said.

CARTA is making other upgrades as well. Seekings, who said that CARTA had the oldest fleet of buses in America three years ago, but it recently was awarded $1.5 million to purchase new electric buses. That will help the authority eventually transition its 100-plus fleet from fuel-driven vehicles.

The organization is also replacing Express buses with newer vehicles. 

In addition, the Transit app — used in metropolitan areas across the globe — is now being used by CARTA riders to keep track of buses in real time.

“The whole optics are we are inviting you to become part of a positive experience," Seekings said.

CARTA purchasing its first electric buses as it plans to replace entire fleet

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Rickey Dennis covers North Charleston and faith & values for the Post and Courier.

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