Free Bus to Beach C of C Student Guide

An image of a light house, directly behind a bus stop in historic Charleston, South Carolina.

Sullivan's Island Light House

CARTA offers an free and simple way for Students at the College of Charleston to get to the Beach at the Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island.   The #402 Island Flex Bus is not meeting ridership targets and has been targeted for review by CARTA, so it’s use it or lose it.  Fortunately doing something good for the community and environment on this occasion is a day at the beach.  With your C of C Student ID functioning as a bus pass, it is FREE.

Begin your trip downtown at the Mary Street Transit Center, between King and Meeting Streets, one block North of the Visitor’s Center.  This is an easy walk from the College or you can take the DASH bus there for free.

Please note that while Google Transit can be used to plan bus trips on the CARTA system now, the route to the beach is a Flex service and is not yet included in that system.  To make your trip work, plan a your trip on Google Transit to Mt. Pleasant Town Center and call CARTA Tel-A-Ride & Flex Dispatch  843-724-7420 at least 2 hours ahead to arrange for the Island Flex Bus to meet you after the #40 arrives.  If you call a day ahead, you can usually get an instant connection.  They do this all the time.

Please note that the Island Flex doesn’t show up if you use Google Transit to plan a CARTA trip to the beach, which will report no bus service on IOP or Sullivans.  This is supposed to be corrected soon.  You have to rely on the printed schedule for pickup times at Town Center or Call CARTA to make a reservation.   Here is the official CARTA Schedule for the #402.

Take the #40 Bus to Mount Pleasant Towne Centre

Board the #40 Mt. Pleasant Bus, which leaves Mary Street at 38 minutes after the hour.  This will take you over the Cooper River Bridges, past Trader Joes, Kmart, Wal-Mart/Wando Crossing Shopping Center (All of which have bus stops) to Towne Centre.   Get off the #40 in front of Verizon Cellular at Town Centre.

Take the #402 Island Flex to the Beaches

Bus to the Beach

CARTA provides service to the Isle of Palms and Sullivans Island with the #402 Island Flex

From here you have two options, the #402 Island Flex bus makes scheduled pickups every two hours at Town Center.  If you want to get to the beach faster, call CARTA at 843-724-7420, ask for Tel-A-Ride dispatch at least two hours in advance and ask for an advanced reservation to pick you and your friends up at Verizon right after the #40 drops you off.  There is no extra charge for this service.

The scheduled pickups will drop you off right at the entrance of Isle of Palms County Park, where you’ll find showers and changing rooms, as well as the shops, bars and beach front restaurants nearby.  The City of IOP also has showers, bathrooms and changing rooms at a facility next to the Hot Dog Stand and Flag poles nearby.  However with an advanced request for a reserved pickup and drop off, the #402 Island Flex Bus will take you to anywhere on the Isle of Palms of Sullivan’s Island you might like to go.  If you do request a drop off somewhere other than the County Park on IOP, make sure you reserve a trip back as well.  Don’t hesitate to check with the driver on the #402 to confirm your trip details while you are on board.  They’re happy to help.

The #40 bus can carry sixty passengers and the #402 can carry twenty-five, so consider bringing a bunch of friends for some real fun.  This gives you a safe ride to the beach without parking hassles, sand in the car or worries about partying too much before you drive.

An image of the bus stop at the Charleston County Isle of Palms beach front park.

Bus Stop at IOP County Park, actual stop is about 70 feet North out in the sun with no bench, but you'll be able to see the bus coming in time to get there while waiting here.

Getting Extra Value from Your Trip

Your trip home takes you back on the #402 Island Flex Bus to Town Center where you can see a movie or shop, however the #402 can also drop you off at two nearby Grocery Stores, BI-LO on the IOP Connector and Harris Teeter on 17.  From each of those locations, there are nearby stops on the #40 for the trip back to Charleston.

For those who really want a bargain, there is a Goodwill Store at Six Mile that is also in the #402 zone with 50 linear feet of jeans and other bargains with a #40 Bus stop on the Highway nearby.

The #40 Bus stop to return downtown is across from Verizon and Carvel Ice Cream at Town Centre.  See this trip from Town Center to C of C on Google.

Another Bus route in Mt. Pleasant, the #401 East Cooper Connector, also connects with the #40 and #402 at Town Center, providing transportation to Coleman Blvd., the Old Village, Belle Hall and other areas around Mt. Pleasant.

For a quick video tour of the available East Cooper CARTA Services see It’s Gonna Be a Good Day on You Tube.

Use it or Lose It

It’s all available using your student ID as a CARTA bus pass for free.  If the bus reaches it’s ridership goals , it will continue to be available.  CARTA will evaluate the route in summer 2012 for retention, modification or cancellation.

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