Stand Up 4 Transit in the Lowcountry

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May 152015

On Wednesday, May 20, Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit will hold Operation Mary Bowers 520 to call on the supporters of transit in the Lowcountry to join a final push to persuade Mark Sanford and other members of our congressional delegation in the US House and Senate to support public transit in legislation now before Congress.

Horse Car similar to those in use at the time Mary Bowers stood up for transit in Charleston in 1867.

Horse Car similar to those in use at the time Mary Bowers stood up for transit in Charleston in 1867.

A History of Transit Riders Acting for Justice

In 1867 Mary Bowers, a recently liberated former slave was enjoying her new freedom to assemble and speak at a rally with other people of color in downtown Charleston. Mary decided to board the new whites only horse drawn streetcar system on Meeting Street and was thrown back into the street. Two days of “militant activism” followed during which federal authorities persuaded the streetcar company to desegregate the line. For a time whites refused to sit with blacks but by summer anger faded and they were seated side by side, a practice which survived until the 1890s. This was eight decades before Rosa Parks sparked another nationwide civil rights movement by refusing to give up her seat on a bus.

Read about the events going on and how you can participate at the Hungryneck Straphangers site.

Charleston Peninsula Mobility Report Released

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Jan 222015

The Trustees and staff of Historic Charleston Foundation, in partnership with the City of Charleston, were pleased to release the Peninsula Mobility Report prepared by respected transportation expert Gabe Klein.Charleston Transportation Study The former Director of Transportation for the cities of Chicago and Washington, D.C., Klein is currently a visiting Research Fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C. He is nationally renowned for implementing a variety of creative transportation improvements in challenging urban conditions.

Between July and November, Klein visited the city, spoke at two public forums and met with community leaders to discuss the future of mobility in downtown Charleston. To proactively address the future of transportation and mobility on the Peninsula as downtown continues to grow is one of the Foundation’s major advocacy initiatives, and the forward-thinking Peninsula Mobility Report provides key strategies toward a progressive and integrated mobility system.

Klein recommends the creation of a much more robust transit network downtown, which could include trolleys and better buses, and the construction of shared parking facilities along the upper peninsula that could serve as remote parking for our visitors and workers entering the city.

The Foundation will continue to work with the city and other partners on the important implementation stage of this report.

Read the report on the Foundation’s website.

New Group Forms to Promote Trolley Transit

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Dec 262014

Trolley Chs 1900'sAn advocacy group, Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit, announced its founding on Dec. 17, 2014, in part to pursue rail transit options. The group is an offshoot of another group, Hungryneck Straphangers, which has existed for five years.

Both groups plan to work to persuade Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA), the regional public transit authority, to consider the idea.

While Charleston used to have streetcar service in the first part of the last century, service in ended in February 1938 and was replaced by buses.

Continue reading »

When Good Transit Ideas Go Bad

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Aug 112013

So much for the grand plans for the Intermodal Transportation Center that we were all looking forward to in North Charleston. You know, that brand new railway transit passenger station that would connect Amtrak with the airport and the bus lines and other ways of getting in to, out of, and around the lowcountry?

CARTA Intermodal Transit RenderingMore than 15 years ago, planning began for an Intermodal Transportation Center that would, among other things, allow Amtrak to leave its outmoded station in North Charleston. Now the push is to upgrade the old train station site for that purpose, despite having spent $10 million on the ITC property on Montague Avenue.

Apparently, there’s no way the 36-acre site can be developed as intended because of a fundamental conflict with Amtrak and CSX rail that would cost a staggering $25 million to fix.

The dilemma has local officials asking the Federal Transit Authority, which put up the money for the project, for permission to abandon the Montague Avenue site in favor of the old train station. Charleston County Councilman Elliott Summey tells us that ongoing conversations with the FTA are encouraging, and he expects a decision soon. Mr. Summey also is chairman of CARTA’s board.

This story comes to us from the Post & Courier. Please see the full article there –
How did transit plan go so wrong?

Wilkinson Named as CARTA Director

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Dec 272011

CARTAThe Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority named Christine Wilkinson its executive director Wednesday, according to a news release. Wilkinson was CARTA’s interim executive director after taking over following Howard Chapman’s retirement in June.

“Christine Wilkinson is a strong leader and has done a great job in her time as interim executive director,” said Elliott Summey, CARTA board president. “She has been with CARTA since the beginning and knows the system, the area and is extremely qualified for the position.”

CARTA ridership has increased 14%, and more than 15,000 passengers ride CARTA routes on an average workday, the organization reported.

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