As CARTA’s current chairman, I wanted to clarify some recent coverage about CARTA in regard to a five-year plan that was presented at our board meeting this month. What was presented was a Five-Year Strategic Financial Plan that will be instrumental in helping us forge ahead with a long-term regional development plan for the next 25 years.

The main goal of the financial plan is to make CARTA as efficient as possible, while providing as much service as possible. It’s not about reducing service, but consolidating it to serve more individuals with more options.

It is our responsibility to the taxpayers and customers that support the system. We’ve demonstrated this by serving 4.5 million passengers in 2011 alone, plus a 15 percent increase in ridership in 2012 thus far.

Operating with deficits is not an option and in order to remain viable and expand, it was necessary for us to lay out a clear and structured five-year financial plan.

Without this, we would be unable to achieve these goals and make our long-term vision for mass transit in the region a reality. This is part of our continued efforts to deliver efficient service to the maximum number of riders.

In addition to our Five-Year Strategic Financial Plan, we also have a long-term plan that covers the next 25 years. This plan was created in partnership with Berkeley-Charleston- Dorchester Council of Governments (COG), and was recently approved and adopted by the Charleston Area Transportation Study Policy Committee (CHATS).

Our long-term plan is critical to provide a system that our community will value in the future.

We’ve also taken the lead working in conjunction with the COG. This collaboration explores all potential types of transit, such as heavy and light rail, bus transit, etc.

We are all in agreement that our region could benefit from such forward-thinking service, and through our work with the COG we’ll be able to identify which form of transit is most appropriate and cost effective for this community,

CARTA and its Board of Directors are working hard to make sure we have the tools and resources available to bring about positive change to our region.

The first of several steps is to get our financial house in order, which is what we reviewed at this month’s board meeting.

J. Elliott Summey Charleston County Councilman

CARTA Board Chairman John Street