People East of the Cooper, from the Mayor of Mt. Pleasant to Middle School Students were all working on improving our transit system on March 13. The process which has pushed ridership on our #40 Trans Mt. Pleasant Bus up 30% and gotten ridership on the #401 East Cooper Connector to 1400 riders per month continues after more than a year’s effort by government, non profits, churches and schools.
Town Leaders take a Ride
The Mayor of Mount Pleasant, four members of town council, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Planning Dpt. and several other Town Government representatives joined Linda Page and CARTA staff on board the #40 & #401 for a ride to and from Mount Pleasant Town Center from Town Hall. Our #401 circulator bus route, which is still working towards achieving its ridership goals. The #40 has shown spectacular growth. The ride was linked to a CARTA promotional effort coordinated with similar promotions throughout the country celebrating the increase in ridership throughout the United States which was moving at a 6% annual rate as of December as increasing employment brings sidelined workers back on to transit while increasing gas prices make transit more competitive. CARTA has exceeded the national trend with 17% growth over the last 12 months. Along the route, our elected representatives saw places where upgraded stops were needed and were briefed on upcoming plans to put GPS tracking on the buses. The ride was covered by local media, including WCIV TV 4′s Report.
Bus to the Beach Promoted to C of C Students
That afternoon, East Cooper CARTA riders renewed outreach efforts on behalf of our transit system at the College of Charleston, taking updated information on the #402 Island Flex Route to the beaches to the Offices of Admissions, Student Government and Student Media. We had face to face conversations with counselors at admissions, student leaders and reporters about how the beach service worked and how the #40 connected it to downtown, from which students can have a fee round trip to the beach by using their ID as a bus pass. We had made this trip before, however the new route began running too late for effective outreach last spring. This time, with warm weather just beginning and memories of last week’s spring break fresh in the student’s minds, we got a very positive response. About 50 schedules were distributed. Details on the Free Bus to the Beach for C of C Students are online here. OUr efforts were rewarded with a tweet send to hundreds of students the following day about the service, with more promotional efforts sure to come as the weather warms.
Preparations for Medical Complex Transit Canvas
In the evening, we got an update on preparations for transit canvass of the East Cooper Medical Complex being planned by the Moultrie Middle School Beta Club on March 30. The Hospital has assigned staff to guide the students so that the canvas can reach the nursing and public information counters throughout the hospital. More route schedules for the #401 were ordered from the printer by CARTA. The students are studying the system, learning how to use Google maps to plan trips and working on outreach to the fellow students at the school as well.
Thanks to efforts like these, we’re making progress based on community engagement, not preparing for a public hearing where most of our routes are being reexamined for possible changes or cancellation as West of the Ashley and James Island were the following day.
See a quick video overview of the East Cooper Transit System at right from Youtube at right.
A year ago, as we prepared to launch these new routes, the common assumption was that people East of the Cooper wouldn’t ride CARTA. We now know that isn’t true and that face to face outreach and educational efforts work here. While the automobile will certainly continue to be a major part of our transportation system, the community is clearly moving towards a diversified hybrid system where transit, pedestrian travel along improved sidewalks and cycling along the new bike lanes and paths is becoming a significant part of how people East of the Cooper Move.