Friday, August 29, 2014
TriCounty Link wants to know what you think.
The public transportation provider has been working to gather public input on existing bus routes and proposed changes aimed at improving service. Most recently, it held a series of public meetings throughout the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester region.
The idea, said officials hosting the meetings, is to raise public awareness about services offered, discuss top performing and poor performing routes, and introduce and discuss proposed changes to present services.
Thus far, the meetings have been positive, said Corrine Donahue, a Transit Planner with CDM Smith, the consulting firm helping Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments and TriCounty Link with this evaluation process. Meetings have been held in St. George, Summerville and Lincolnville, and more will be held throughout the region over the next couple of weeks, she said.
BCDCOG took over the operation and management of TriCounty Link in 2012. In 2013, BCDCOG decided to take a closer look at TriCounty Link. To that end, the COG started soliciting input from Link drivers, riders and the general public to try to get a better idea of challenges, successes, and opportunities, BCDCOG Senior Planner Michele Canon said. The COG also retained CDM Smith to help with the process, she said.
Donahue said they have been analyzing data to determine the top performing – and the poorest performing – routes. The goal is not necessarily to remove those routes that are not performing up to par but to take a closer look to see if it is possible to change them to increase ridership. A number of factors may be involved, including convenience of use, proximity to populations, and available destinations.
“The first thing you want to know is, “are we spending money in the right places?,” Donahue said during the meeting held Aug. 26 in Lincolnville. “The routes have not changed much over the years – we need to understand where our riders want to go.”
Convenience can be a factor, noted Canon and TriCounty Link Community Outreach Coordinator Barbara Flynn. For example, the route that runs from Live Oak Drive in Moncks Corner to North Charleston generally only runs early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Therefore, if someone needs to go to a medical appointment at Trident Hospital, for example, that person may have to spend the day in the area if he or she relies on the Link service alone.
“We are there — we’re just limited,” Canon said.
Nonetheless, TriCounty Link’s customer service is consistently rated high by riders and the Link will do its best to solve problems and make accomodations any way it can, Flynn noted. “I know we address all concerns immediately,” Flynn said. “We do provide excellent customer service.”
Canon agreed, noting customer service was one of the highest rated categories in the recent rider survey conducted.
Currently, one of the poorest performing routes, the D305, runs through Lincolnville, Donahue said.
The daily fare to ride is $1.70, plus a 35 cent CARTA transfer; monthly passes are $18 and include free CARTA transfers, she said.
However, it costs around $65 per hour to operate one bus. With only four percent of operating revenues coming from rider fares and the rest coming from federal Transportation Authority fund and state funds, increasing ridership is always a priority, she said.
“They’re just not riding it right now,” Donahue said. “So the route may need to be shifted.”
Lincolnville Mayor Charles C. Duberry said that he believes the service is important to the citizens of Lincolnville. He also said increasing ridership in Lincolnville may be just a matter of ensuring that the public is informed. He also noted that the the TriCounty Link Park and Ride lot located adjacent to the Berlin Myers Parkway seems very busy, indicating that people in the area are using the service.
“I think they (the citizens of Lincolnville) just don’t seem to know about it,” Duberry said. “I think if they know about it, they’ll ride. We are definitely going to get the word out so that they know it’s there for them.”
For more information about TriCounty Link or to give input regarding its services
contact Michele Canon at (843) 529-0400 ext 205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.