Coast RTA considers cuts to Charleston bus service

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The staff of the Coast Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is reevaluating bus service between Myrtle Beach and Charleston. The general manager told the RTA's board of directors Wednesday the service may be too expensive to continue operating the way it currently does.

The Coast RTA began the service between Myrtle Beach and Charleston in December of 2009. Trips between the two cities have been offered on Thursdays and Saturdays. The Saturday service may need to be eliminated Rollins said.

On Saturdays Coast RTA buses traveling between Myrtle Beach and Charleston connect Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach to downtown Charleston. Rollins said the route is growing in popularity, but it may not be popular enough to continue.

"If we [eliminate Saturday service] we've determined in our preliminary number crunching that we'll save 56-thousand or our public dollars by not running the service on Saturday," Rollins said. "We have to make sure we are doing something that keeps us in the black. To that end if we don't have adequate ridership then we have to reevaluate it."

Rollins said if the Saturday service is eliminated Coast RTA may continue to provide transportation between the two cities on a "subscription basis." Rollins said that means Coast RTA would provide the transportation if enough people or a group request the service and schedules it ahead of time. He said the staff still has to figure out the minimum number or riders needed to run the by-request service.

The Thursday route stops at the Veterans Affairs primary care clinic in Myrtle Beach and the Veterans Affairs hospital in Charleston. The route also has a stop at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Hospital in Charleston. Because the route focused on connecting veterans to the medical facilities it has been popular with veterans.

"Some people don't have a way to get around, and that's the only way they got to go," commented veteran Joe Pittman of Aynor.

Fortunately for veterans the Coast RTA does not want to eliminate the route that includes the VA facilities. Rollins said the RTA may decide to shift the service to Friday though because VA staff say it may make it easier to schedule appointments.

Rollins said the RTA staff will consider the changes over the next month, and he plans to have a decision made by the end of September.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved. (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)