There is a solution to be found between the horse carriage operators and local opposition.
The recent Tourism Commission Subcommittee meeting was well attended by both sides; however, I never heard a carriage operator address the welfare of tourists or equines.
The carriage companies’ comments concerned their income and convenience. They appeared befuddled at the concept of reworking their business model.
There was considerable grumbling over the lack of accurate “statistics” regarding everything from temperature to T-tags. The reason? The industry is self-regulating.
Profiting from tourism appears to have been the industry’s ultimate goal, and that has been accomplished. But now we have horrendous traffic, exasperated locals and endangered pedestrians and cyclists.
Carriage companies can diversify and become the golden child of Charleston by supplying buses for daily commuters. Carriage drivers would be employed, traffic accidents diminished and employees happier.
Trolleys could transport tourists to the Hampton Horse Park stable area. Guides there could regale them as they safely clip clop around a horse path. There could be opportunities for a gift shop, tea room or adopt-a-horse program.
I’ve yet to see a carriage passenger who would not benefit from a walk around Charleston. If you say it’s too hot to walk in the sweltering summer months, you can bet it’s too hot to pull a wagon.
Retrofit wagons to run on electric power and produce zero emissions. Have a fundraiser to offset the costs.
Seventy-two percent of people asked in a Nov. 21 survey said downtown carriage tours should be stopped entirely in Charleston.
And at the subcommittee meeting, a speaker asked if Charleston has abandoned ethics for financial profits, adding that Charleston is better than that.
Instead of citing the grievances that they have against groups working for safety and humane treatment, come to the table with ideas about new, environmentally and socially conscious transportation.