CARTA Drivers, Notable Residents Compete in Annual Bus “Roadeo” Driving Skills Challenge

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Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority
A BERKELEY-CHARLESTON-DORCHESTER COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS PROGRAM

CARTA DRIVERS, NOTABLE RESIDENTS COMPETE IN ANNUAL BUS “ROADEO” DRIVING SKILLS CHALLENGE
Obstacle course at North Charleston Coliseum to provide stern test

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Oct. 8 2018) – If you think driving in Charleston traffic is hard, try doing it in a 40-foot bus. That’s what a quartet of notable Charlestonians will be tasked with when they join Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) drivers in the transit system’s annual Bus “Roadeo” at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13 at the North Charleston Coliseum.

This year’s celebrity drivers are:

  • Matt Lee of the Lee Bros. (Defending Champion)

  • Leyla Gulen, Anchor/Host, FOX 24

  • Charlie James, Radio Host, WTMA

  • Jamee Haley, Executive Director, Lowcountry Local First

“Our drivers are highly skilled and this is a chance for them to showcase their talent,” said CARTA board of directors chairman Mike Seekings. “At the same time, the notable residents illustrate what a true challenge it is to operate these vehicles in an open parking lot, much less the crowded streets and highways of Charleston.”

Obstacle stations include: Offset Street, Right/Left Turn, Right/Left Reverse, Passenger Pickup, the ominous-sounding Serpentine, and crowd favorite Diminishing Clearance.

CARTA drivers will be competing for a berth in the statewide “Roadeo” in early 2019. For the non-pros, eternal glory is up for grabs. The event is open to the media and the public. The first buses roll at 8 a.m. in the North Charleston Coliseum E parking lot. Celebrity competition kicks off at 10 a.m.

ABOUT CARTA

The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) is a public transportation system dedicated to providing affordable transit in the Charleston community through local fixed routes, on-demand paratransit service and express commuter routes. For the latest on CARTA, visit www.ridecarta.com, like us on Facebook or follow on Twitter at @RideCARTA. All customers are encouraged to plan rides and track buses with the CARTA-endorsed Transit app and the CARTA Bus Tracker.

BCDCOG Receives $1.5 Million in Federal Grant Funds for Battery-Electric Buses

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COUNCIL PARTNERED WITH S.C.-BASED BUS MANUFACTURER PROTERRA

NORTH CHARLESTON (Aug. 29, 2018) – The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG) has been awarded $1.5 million in funding as a part of the Federal Transportation Authority (FTA) Low- or No-Emission (Low-No) Grant program.

BCDCOG, one of 23 agencies nationwide to receive funds, will purchase an initial trio of zero-emission, battery-electric vehicles from Greenville, S.C. manufacturer Proterra, with whom it partnered on the grant application. The buses will be part of the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) fleet. BCDCOG has managed the transit authority since 2015.

“This is yet another step forward for public transportation in the region,” said BCDCOG and CARTA executive director Ron Mitchum. “Our staff worked diligently to secure funding for these clean-fuel vehicles, which will be the first of many on tri-county streets and highways.”

The CARTA board of directors in July passed a resolution to transition its entire fleet of fixed-route buses, primarily 1996 models that serviced the Atlanta Olympics, to zero-emission battery-electrics over the next several years. Funding from another federal grant program, when combined with Low-No resources, could see the number of battery-electric vehicles increase to as many nine in the near-term. CARTA is in the midst of updating its Express buses and has recently replaced its entire Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) and Tel-A-Ride paratransit fleets.

A cornerstone of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act signed into law by Congress in December of 2015, the Low-No Grant program is centered on modernizing transit systems through the purchase of buses which are powered by hybrid or battery engines, according to a Proterra release.

More than $84 million in funding is being made available for 52 projects in 41 states via the Low-No program. About $36 million will be spent on Proterra buses nationally.

“We are extremely happy to see American-made, zero-emission vehicles making their way into our fleet,” said CARTA board of directors chairman Mike Seekings. “Reliable, eco-friendly buses are a core component of what we’re building in regard to public transit in the region.”

ABOUT BCDCOG:

The?BCDCOG?is a voluntary association of, by and for local governments, and was established to assist Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester county leaders in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit, and coordinating for sound regional development.?BCDCOG’s purpose is to strengthen the individual and collective power of local governments and to help them recognize regional opportunities, eliminate unnecessary duplication, and make joint decisions. For the latest on?BCDCOG, visit?www.bcdcog.com, like us on?Facebook?or follow on Twitter at?@BDCCoG.

ABOUT CARTA:
The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) is a public transportation system dedicated to providing affordable transit in the Charleston community through local fixed routes, on-demand paratransit service and express commuter routes. For the latest on CARTA, visit www.ridecarta.com, like us on Facebook or follow on Twitter at @RideCARTA. All customers are encouraged to plan rides and track buses with the CARTA-endorsed Transit app and the CARTA Bus Tracker.
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MEDIA CONTACT:
Daniel Brock
Rawle Murdy Associates
(919) 820-2612
dbrock@rawlemurdy.com

TriCounty Link Announces Route and Service Changes Effective Tuesday, September 4, 2018

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TRICOUNTY LINK ANNOUNCES ROUTE AND SERVICE CHANGES EFFECTIVE TUESDAY, SEPT. 4
ROUTE ANALYSIS YIELDS OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENTS

MONCKS CORNER S.C. (Aug. 22, 2018) — TriCounty Link, the region’s rural public transit provider, will roll out a series of route and service modifications across the system, effective Tuesday, Sept. 4th

The changes, which follow a recent Comprehensive Operational Analysis and public input meetings, are being made to increase efficiency, provide better connections and, in some cases, offer expanded service.

“With ridership of more than 100,000 annually, TriCounty Link provides an invaluable connection for many rural residents to jobs, healthcare and more,” said TriCounty Link executive director Ron Mitchum. “By comprehensively analyzing the service and taking action, the system is now in position to operate more efficiently, making the most of available resources to better serve riders.”

Change highlights include:

  • Summerville Connector: New destinations along Old Trolley Road, Midland Parkway and Ladson Road; serves Bacons Bridge Bi-Lo, Hwy. 17A Walmart and HealthSouth, with connection to CARTA.

  • Johns/James Island/West Service:

    • C204 (Johns Island/West Ashley): Former C204 Johns Island Blue Route will now service Fresh Fields; endpoint of the Mt. Zion school; CARTA connection at Citadel Mall.

    • C205 (Johns Island/James Island): Former C204 Green-Johns Island Green; route will service James Island Walmart, Riverland Drive and Senior Center, as well as a portion of River Rd. on John’s Island. Connection to CARTA Express Route 1 and Route 31 at Walmart.

      • Route will no longer service Citadel Mall. Passengers will be able to transfer to John’s Island/West Ashley route; will no longer service Old Pond Rd.

  • Ravenel/West Ashley:

    • C202 (Hollywood/Ravenel): New route providing service along Hwy. 17 in the Ravenel, Hwy. 165 and Hwy. 162 in Hollywood. Operates Monday-Friday, twice daily, morning and evening, with a focus on employment transportation. CARTA connection at Citadel Mall.

New Routes:

Routes with substantial changes:

Routes with minor schedule changes:

Discontinued Routes:

  • Routes Commuter Solution 6, Commuter Solution 7 and B104 (Bonneau/Moncks Corner) have been consolidated with other routes or completely renamed and will no longer operate.

View all the Sept. 4 route changes here. For more information, visit ridetricountylink.com or call (800) 966-6631.

Note: The letter in front of routes (B, C, D) denotes the county that they primarily service.

ABOUT TRICOUNTY LINK

The TriCounty Link system is comprised of nine regular fixed routes and six commuter routes providing services to rural residents of Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties. The current fleet consists of 60 vehicles seating from 14 to 32 passengers. All TriCounty Link vehicles are ADA compliant and include wheelchair lifts, and on average, two wheelchair tie-down positions per vehicle. For the latest on TriCounty Link, visit www.ridetricountylink.com and like us on Facebook.

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Daniel Brock / Michael Stettner

Rawle Murdy Associates

dbrock@rawlemurdy.com / mstettner@rawlemurdy.com

(919) 820-2612 / (214) 718-8027

CARTA Completes Replacement of DASH Bus Fleet; Ride Along with Senator Marlon Kimpson

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MEDIA ALERT:? CARTA COMPLETES REPLACEMENT OF DASH BUS FLEET; RIDE ALONG WITH SEN. MARLON KIMPSON, WHO SECURED VEHICLE FUNDING

WHAT: The CARTA Downtown Area (DASH) shuttle fleet is now complete with the addition of two buses secured through state funding made available by Sen. Marlon Kimpson. Ride along with Sen. Kimpson and other elected officials on one of the vehicle’s first trips and discuss the region’s transportation future.

WHEN: Friday, Aug. 24, 1:30 p.m.

WHO:?? South Carolina Senator Marlon Kimpson
???????????? Mike Seekings, CARTA Board Chairman
?? ? ? ? ? ? CARTA Board of Directors

WHERE: 999 Morrison Drive (HOP parking lot). To arrange interviews, please email dbrock@rawlemurdy.com or call (919) 820-2612.

WHY: Unveiling the final pieces of the DASH fleet and speaking with a state-level representative about the future of transit in the Lowcountry.

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MEDIA CONTACT:??? ??? ???
Daniel Brock
Rawle Murdy Associates
(919) 820-2612
dbrock@rawlemurdy.com

CARTA seeks to set ridership record on National Dump the Pump Day

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PARTNERS ON JUNE 21 INCLUDE HOLY SPOKES, AFFORDABIKE AND MORE

CHARLESTON, S.C. (MAY 15, 2018) – The time for talk is done. On Thursday, June 21, everyone in the Lowcountry can do something about traffic congestion – even if it’s just for one day.

How? The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) is leading local efforts to encourage alternative travel methods on National Dump the Pump Day — and the authority will also seek to set a single-day ridership record of more than 20,000.

“CARTA has been steadily improving its efficiency, fleet, amenities and technology,” said CARTA board chairman Mike Seekings. “Dump the Pump Day is the perfect time for residents to give the system a try. We think they’ll like what they find, and we think it will lead to sustained ridership increases.”

CARTA National Dump the Pump Day efforts include:

  • Dump the Pump Pledge: If you’re going to Dump the Pump, put it in writing by signing the Dump the Pump Pledge at ridecarta.com/dumpthepump. Then share it with friends.

  • Dump the Pump Social Media Contest: Signing the Dump the Pump Pledge is also the first step to winning some fabulous prizes. Here’s how it works:

      • Sign the pledge.

      • Download the CARTA-endorsed Transit App in the Apple Store or Google Play.

      • Document your day-of trip with photos on social media using the hashtag. #DumpthePumpCHS

      • The giveaway will be hosted on the CARTA Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts and the winner will be chosen by CARTA staff. (Rides on the TriCounty Link system are eligible for entry, as well.)

    • The prize package includes:

      • A brand-new Charleston Chariot bicycle from Dump the Pump partner Affordabike (valued at $250)

      • A year-long CARTA “Golden Ticket” pass

      • A $50 giftcard to the restaurant HoM and more.

  • LowcountryGo: A free, web-based program available to those who want a better way to commute in the Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester region. That could mean bus, carpool, vanpool, biking, walking and more.

Those who want to dump the pump can review routes and schedules at ridecarta.com and download the Transit App in the Apple Store or Google Play to help with planning trips and and tracking buses. The timing for Dump the Pump also couldn’t be better: gas prices have increased locally by nearly 30 cents per gallon in three months.

CARTA provides free WiFi and bike racks on buses. Regular fares are just $2 one-way. Express rates are $3.50 and both the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) and Hospitality on Peninsula (HOP) shuttle are free.

“There are really no excuses,” Seekings said. “The Transit app makes it easy, and we’re simply asking people to give CARTA a try for one day and see where it goes from there.”

About National Dump the Pump Day

Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the 2018 National Dump the Pump Day is a day that encourages people to ride public transportation and to take them where they need to go, instead of driving a car.? Started in June 2006 when gas prices were $3 per gallon, this national day emphasizes that public transportation is a convenient travel option that also helps people save money.

About CARTA

The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) is a public transportation system dedicated to providing affordable transit to the Charleston community through fixed routes, Tel-A-Ride/demand service and express routes. For the latest on CARTA, visit www.ridecarta.com, like us on Facebook or follow on Twitter at @RideCARTA. All customers are encouraged to download Transit?, the CARTA-approved app, in Google Play or the App Store. Next arrivals can be obtained by calling or texting (843) 202-4410.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Daniel Brock
Rawle Murdy Associates
(919) 820-2612
dbrock@rawlemurdy.com

Big News From CARTA: Launches New Real-Time Mobile App and Texting Service; Previews Website

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CARTA has announced its partnership with Transit, the leading mobile app provider for public transportation.

Riders will now be able to navigate the Charleston area with accurate real-time predictions, simple trip planning, step-by-step navigation, service disruption notifications and departure and stop reminders – and it’s all presented in a clear, bold interface.

Transit is available for free download in the Google Play and the Apple App Store. Download and tell your friends!

For riders without smart phones or Internet service, CARTA also introduced a new SMS texting and phone service. Customers can call or text (843) 202-4410 and provide the stop number of their choice, which can be found on signs at bus stops or online here. An automated system will then relay the next two real-time arrivals for each route servicing the selected stop.

Attached you’ll find a Transit 101 document on usage of the app, as well as photo to use for social media posts. Thanks for your support!

KEY FEATURES OF “TRANSIT”

  • Know when the next bus is arriving with real-time predictions.
  • Plan A-to-B trips with ease.
  • See exactly where buses are on the map in real-time.
  • Launch GO for step-by-step navigation when on an unfamiliar route.
  • Receive departure alarms and stop notifications as well as prompts to pick up the pace in GO.
  • View schedules and route itineraries. Even offline.
  • Check ETAs for the closest Uber and request a ride.

Daniel Brock
Account Supervisor, PR & Social Media
Rawle Murdy
960 Morrison Drive, Suite 300, Charleston, SC ?29403
843.577.7327 ext. 1130,?919.820.2612?(mobile)

CARTA Driver Recognized as SCDOT Operator of the Year

Gloria Fulton

CARTA DRIVER WINS SCDOT BUS OPERATOR OF THE YEAR AWARD
Drivers also take home state “Roadeo” honors, advance to Nationals

CHARLESTON, S.C. (March 27, 2017) –? The SC Department of Transportation has recognized Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) driver Gloria Fulton as its fixed route Operator of the Year, noting that the 37-year veteran has “gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide safe and efficient transportation services to the general public.”

Fulton received the top honor during the Transportation Association of South Carolina’s annual conference March 23-26 in Myrtle Beach. At the same event, CARTA driver Jamel Thomas finished first in the Paratransit division of the state “Roadeo” driving skills challenge. Thomas, who has driven for CARTA’s Tel-A-Ride service the past eight years and Charleston native, will compete in the national “Roadeo” later this year.

“Gloria and Jamel are incredible drivers and, more importantly, great people,” CARTA Chairman Mike Seekings said. “Their commitment to our riders and their incredible driving skills, particularly on our congested roadways, are truly inspiring. We could not be more pleased by this recognition from the SCDOT.”

Elsewhere at the conference, CARTA bus driver Bernard Sumter won second place in both the 35- and 40-foot bus “Roadeo” divisions.

About CARTA
The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) is a public transportation system dedicated to providing affordable transit to the Charleston community through fixed routes, Tel-A-Ride/demand service and express routes. For the latest on CARTA, visit www.ridecarta.com, like us on Facebook or follow on Twitter at @RideCARTA. All customers are encouraged to map rides and track buses with Google’s Transit program and the CARTA Bus Tracker.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Daniel Brock
Rawle Murdy
dbrock@rawlemurdy.com
919-820-2612

Jamel Thomas

Onboard With CARTA Until It Gets Dark

By David McNamara
By David McNamara

Since relocating to Charleston I’ve noticed a peculiar trend amongst locals when discussing the state of the public transport system – everyone has an opinion. And everyone considers their opinion legitimate regardless of whether they have ever set foot on a CARTA bus or not.

I recently moved to Mt Pleasant and for the past three months I’ve relied solely on a candied pink and green colored women’s cruiser and the Route 40 to get around. I find CARTA a consummate service at an unbeatable price. A standard flat rate fare is $1.75 with a $0.30 transfer fee allows me to travel across the city, through downtown and all the way to Folly Beach or North Charleston for a mere $2.05.

However, cost alone won’t persuade people to leave their cars at home. Most of us happily pay for convenience, or at least the illusion of it. CARTA describes this as “point-of-pain” which refers to the frustrations of congested traffic, increases in petrol prices and parking difficulties. And most folk need a lot of pain, or a damn good excuse to get out of their vehicles ? even when the long lunchtime queue at Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru can easily be circumvented by parking up and walking into the store for counter service.

While sharing public transport with retirees, hospital staff, the odd tourist couple, and young workers dressed in aprons and nametags, my only major criticism is its infrequency and lack of after-hours services. A CARTA spokesperson agrees.

“Increasing frequency of service and offering late-night service are two of the major issues we encounter while trying to grow ridership – and in those areas we find ourselves constrained by limited financial resources.”

Covering North Charleston, Route 11 operates CARTA’s latest daily service which departs downtown at 8.52 pm on Monday through to Saturday. Typically all routes suffer from heavily reduced schedules on Sundays with no service after 7.00 pm.

From Mt Pleasant I can use public transport and arrive downtown to meet friends as late as 9.45 pm on most nights. In contrast, the last service home departs from Mary Street/Meeting Street at 7.45 pm. So like a fairytale, the Ravenel Bridge for me transforms from an aspiring, sunlit image of connectivity to a nocturnal curse. And on most evenings I feel marooned in Mt Pleasant, barred from the peninsula’s late night hubbub due to costly taxi prices.

Mt Pleasant Mayor, Linda Page agrees that while CARTA performs an invaluable service to people with limited resources there should be much shorter times between trips.

“Public transport is difficult because it often does not recover the cost of the service. Communities need to bridge the gap until the service can support itself. This is not to say that we should fund a public transportation that does not meet standards, but we should strive to have a system that is self-supporting.”

CARTA believes Lowcountry residents should be applauded for recognizing the need for a strong public transport system. A CARTA spokesperson also identified commuters who forgo individual vehicles in favor of public transport as an enormous help to the city.

“CARTA’s ridership continues to grow at a record-breaking pace. Last year our ridership was 4.9 million, or about 40 percent of transit trips in South Carolina. Public support has grown in the past few years, and that can largely be attributed to advancements and improvements in the system, as well as increased visibility and communication with the community.”

So is it strange for an antipodean import to be questioning the lack of late-night transport? Well, to me it is – especially as Charleston is consistently ranked highest in terms of the most desirable and livable city in numerous international economic and travel guides.

Only recently Charleston City Paper reported the confounding arrest of a young man for public intoxication when he unwittingly asked two undercover cops for a ride because he had drunk too much and rightly decided against driving. Whether this is indicative of a growing intolerance to Charleston’s late night drinking culture is debatable. But along with the controversial confiscation of bicycles on King Street, and the increased congestion and parking difficulties due to large-scale development and the 1300 people CARTA says are moving to the region each month, more and more residents are turning to public transport.

Most young Charlestonians who I address the lack of late-night transport with shrug indifferently, as if it were an immutable facet of Lowcountry living, while others sound more concerned with their legal rights to evade a DUI.

CARTA appreciates the steady influx of people moving to the region for this reason. A CARTA spokesperson says new arrivals also play a major part in changing public transport’s unfortunate cultural stigma.

“Leveraging residents, who are new to the area and very familiar with using public transit plays an important role in removing old ideas and stigma. They come to the area with a different perspective and attitude and often influence their peers to ride as well.”

As a wanderlust struck author I have always been a strong advocate of public transport for countless benefits communal travel provides. Beyond the pragmatic and environmental advantages, sharing a journey with others reinforces social connectivity, broadens cultural perspective and emboldens our compassion. It shapes an internal vessel of appreciation that we’re all in it together – from the toil of early morning wakeups to end-of-day relief where a tacit nod of understanding or shared greeting become the medicine for everyday vicissitudes and hardships.

CARTA admits the public has shown moderate demand for late-night services, but this is not enough without additional interest and funding.

“Operating the buses is a huge expense, and the fare we collect recovers at most a third of that amount. The one way we can effectively combat this is by partnering with businesses to fund routes. It’s something we do with Boeing, Tanger Oulets and North Charleston on our North Area Shuttle Route.”

Lack of funding has always plagued CARTA since its inception in 1997. A CARTA spokesperson explains the recent recession caused forced cuts in hours and late-night services because of diminished funding. While Mt Pleasant Mayor, Linda Page agrees additional services would be of benefit she says there are more pressing issues facing CARTA.

“The largest issues facing CARTA is an ageing fleet and the cost to build its Intermodal Centre in North Charleston. I don’t believe CARTA can afford to discuss new or expanding service without first budgeting for new equipment to meet these demands.”

However, with its new center and a push to have mixed traffic-HOV lanes, CARTA and its progressive team are not stepping back from the challenges ahead.

“We are looking forward to leading our community in thinking about transit from a more regional perspective and connecting our communities with more efficient and effective services. To get there, we would like to see more partnerships cultivated between CARTA and other agencies and organizations in the area. Growing these relationships will directly impact funding the future of public transit here in Charleston.”