Turning point for I-26 transit
By the Post and Courier Editorial Board
January 23, 2016
After more than a year and a half of research public meetings and intensive planning, an effort to build a mass transit alternative along Interstate 26 between Summerville and peninsular Charleston is reaching a major turning point.
On Monday, the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments will host a series of three meetings to gather one last round of public input before creating a final plan to be submitted for federal approval and funding.
Previous meetings eliminated light and commuter rail options in favor of bus rapid transit, a sort of hybrid system in which buses effectively substitute for metro cars. Buses ferry passengers between stations on a separated, fixed guideway allowing them to match and sometimes exceed the speed of regular traffic.
But planners still have to pick a preferred route, determine where to place stops and work out other issues before submitting a final plan to the Federal Transit Administration. And they need the community’s help.
After all, public transportation is for public use. And the hope is that by providing a fast, convenient and effective alternative to fighting traffic gridlock on the Charleston area’s busiest commuter route, more and more people will turn to mass transit as a means to get around.
The shift from personal cars to public transportation could prove vitally important as the Lowcountry population continues to grow and put pressure on roads like I-26 that can’t easily be expanded.
In order to make transit work in Charleston, the system will have to be one that benefits the largest number of people, including those who don’t currently use CARTA’s traditional buses.
That means getting the public involved.
Monday’s meeting will be at North Charleston City Hall, followed by one Tuesday at the Charleston Museum and another Thursday at Bethany United Methodist Church in Summerville. Monday and Tuesday’s meetings start at 6 p.m. Thursday’s starts at 7 p.m.
For those who can’t attend a meeting in person, a virtual town hall has been set up at i26alt.mindmixer.com.
Next week marks a critical juncture for the future of Lowcountry public transportation.
Don’t miss the chance to help build the faster, more livable, less-gridlocked Charleston area of the future.