Wando High School, Meet The East Cooper CARTA Riders

Parents of students attending school in Mount Pleasant will have the opportunity to gain back some personal time while saving money and gasoline thanks to CARTA’s new East Cooper Route System this fall.

The biggest beneficiary will be Wando High School, to which the #40 bus line was extended last Spring. The CARTA #40, a full sized bus running all the way from the Visitor’s Center in Downtown Charleston to Wando along Highway 17, stops at Wando throughout the day and well into the evening, arriving at 35 minutes after the hour and departing at 38 minutes after the hour.

It gives hundreds of students who otherwise couldn’t get a ride home an opportunity to enjoy extracurricular activities, participate in sports and receive after school tutoring.

Efforts are being made to improve the stop at Wando (as well as other stops across Mount Pleasant) under the leadership of town council and CARTA board members Linda Page and Thomasena Stokes Marshall. At present the stop consists only of a sign and can be found about 50 feet from the Tomahawk Trail entrance to the Wando Campus on Carolina Park Boulevard. The bus stops there every hour from 6:38 a.m. to 8:38 p.m.

Efforts for a bench and possibly even a shelter are in the works.You can get full information on all the CARTA routes in the East Cooper area online at www.eastccrider.com. The $1.75 bus fare is a bargain measured against the time and cost of a trip to Wando in an automobile.

Our community’s new East Cooper Connector #401 route serves most of the other schools in our community and connects to the #40 at Mount Pleasant Town Centre and Houston Northcutt, giving students mobility all over our community.

The connector bus stops at Moultrie Middle School and the current Laing Campus at the old Wando High School Building. It goes by Belle Hall Elementary School, James B. Edwards Elementary School and the current location of Sullivan’s Island Elementary at the old Whitesides Campus as well. The campus of the University School of the Lowcountry and Stella Marris are right on the route.

Transit advocates from East Cooper CARTA Riders and other organizations continue to work on locating a stop which would serve the Schools in Park West and that community as well.

Both routes pass very close to the new Trident Tech campus opening in Mount Pleasant this fall.

While the East Cooper CARTA riders and official CARTA websites have valuable information, there is no substitute for riding the route to find out what the bus can do for you.

Find a stop near where you live, bring the modest fare and an hour later, you will know where your route of interest goes.

An additional transfer fee of 30 cents allows you to move from one route to the other, enabling for instance a ride from Sea Island Shopping Center to Downtown Charleston.

Don’t forget our wonderful #402 Island Flex Bus, which is providing CARTA services to the beaches on the Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island.

My recent trip to Ireland introduced me to that country’s excellent bus system, which complements their delightful rail network. Every stop in Ireland we used had a shelter, important in the damp climate. Local buses had drivers who made change. The double Decker buses provided wonderful views in town. Commuter buses connected nearby towns and long distance buses were operating on routes running several times a day between major towns and cities. The bus to Blarney Castle from Cork ran at least once an hour. There was a special service from Cork to the Ferry Terminal. All of these services operated from and connected at clean, bright stations with staffed ticketing facilities withing walkable distance of the center of town.

We’re a long way from a system like that in Charleston, but we’re lucky to be one of only a few communities in South Carolina which has any public transit system at all. The need is clearly here.

Models for better service and facilities can be found around the world. The determined efforts of our CARTA board representatives from East Cooper have been commendable.

Ridership on East Cooper’s Routes has been increasing with the #40 showing a massive uptick in usage of 16.17 percent.

This fall we can decrease the traffic on our roads, give time back to family and empower our kids using our new CARTA route system to help students get home following after school activities.

William Hamilton (www.wjhamilton.com) is an attorney and coordinates the East Cooper CARTA Riders www.eastccrider.com.

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