#402 – 5/17/2011

William Hamilton- wjhamilton29464@gmail.com

Two kids stand out in front of a surf shop.Leaving Downtown on the #20

I boarded the #20 King Street Citadel at Broad and Meeting and traveled to the Mary Street transit center. The bus gathered passengers moving uptown. I arrived in time to have a short wait before boarding the #40 Trans Mount Pleasant which arrived 4 minutes late at 4:42. I met two tourists from British Columbia, Canada who reported enjoying using CARTA during their visit. The #40 boarded about 10 passengers on its way out of the city. Two tourists were on board, headed to Patriot’s Point. The driver was pleasant and helpful to riders.

Image, Right, Surf Shop on Isle of Palms, on the #402 Route

I traveled out to Town Centre, dismounting near Carvel. The #402 arrived early, about 5:30 and I boarded for my trip out to the Island. I was the only passenger on board and I hadn’t indicated it was a survey ride and that I would have been happy to wait for the regular scheduled run.

Operations on the #402 Island Flex (Bus to the Beach)

The driver reported that she didn’t always receive the bus as clean as she liked. There had been five passengers on board since she came on board at 2 pm. We ran out to Isle of Palms where the driver discovered that I didn’t actually need to go there. We returned to Town Centre, I feeling a bit sheepish about the waste of fuel. I did pay two fares by pass and upcharge.

Route Page for the #402 Island Flex

Image, left, CARVEL ice cream, where the bus stops at Town Centre, They’re now fully stocked with a fresh batch of transit information.Image, left, CARVEL ice cream, where the bus stops at Town Centre, They’re now fully stocked with a fresh batch of transit information.

She felt the bus was underutilized at present. We discussed options for getting more ridership. Limiting pickup locations on the mainland was one option. She felt stopping at Seaside Farms in both directions was important. She shared my opinion that more people probably wanted to ride but were experiencing problems getting a reservation. Other passengers have reported such problems to her. She was an excellent driver and I’ll amend this report to include her name when I have access to my notes.

The driver dropped me off on Hungryneck, at the wooden bench adjacent to BI-LO on the North Side, just West of the Connector. This is the only stop being served by all three Regular East Cooper Buses. The Driver knew that both the #401 and #40 were shortly behind her based on the schedule and made sure I knew which buses were coming and where they went. Her arrival at Town Centre for the scheduled pickup should have been on time. In light traffic, the run out to IOP can be accomplished in 15 minutes as was done here.

Finishing on the #401

I decided to check the #401 East Cooper Connector as well. It came in slightly late with three passengers on board, a mother, father and baby child. They were restarting their lives and learning the system. They really appreciated the bus and were having their second ride. The father dismounted at Town Center as I boarded. The mother continued on around until I left the bus at Waterfront Memorial Park.An image of the East Cooper CARTA Riders advocating at the Blessing of the Fleet in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina

In the hands of a driver as competent and friendly as the three driving our routes yesterday, we have a functional system. The Island Flex’s problems aren’t on the ground. They’re in the office. More scheduled runs, a reasonable rate schedule and less reliance on telephone reservations ought to allow its natural advantages to fill the bus if implemented before June.

We’ve suggested providing the option of requesting a reservation by faxing in a form, but this hasn’t been officially approved yet. The proposed Fax for Island Flex form is online. Unless you are really fond of hearing “stand by me” while you are on hold, you could give it a shot.

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