Conway hopes to bring more people downtown, Coast RTA bus service may help

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - City of Conway leaders are hoping to get more people into downtown, and with the downtown Conway redevelopment plan already underway, the Coast RTA bus service may help with that. Coast RTA is looking to grow and hopes to begin planning for a new bus terminal as soon as this summer.

The Coast RTA terminal in Conway used to be a 1950s Ford Car Dealership. The general manager and CEO of the public transit service, Brian Piascik, said the facility as it is now, is unfit for a bus terminal.

"The facility won't meet our needs now and certainly won't meet our needs in the future, if we want to grow," said Piascik.

He said he has been there for about three years and it was a concern since day one.

Piascik said the company needs to find a new maintenance facility that could be more useful because they are not able to even lift a bus inside the building. He also said they are leasing parking from across the street because there isn't enough space. He said the company would also like to include passenger facilities in Myrtle Beach, Georgetown and Conway.

Piascik hopes in the future, Coast RTA has room to develop a facility where they can hold more buses and take care of more equipment. However, funding is always a major concern, most of which comes from the federal level. He said from a regional perspective, Coast RTA is looking to move the maintenance facilities closer to the beach, where most of their service is. However, the passenger facility would still remain somewhere in Conway if federal funds become available.

With the initiative to revitalize Downtown Conway, Piascik said it is all about becoming an activity center and Coast RTA plays a part of bringing people to that center. So, he said it can be a natural partnership with Conway and work in conjunction with some of their other transportation investments that would fit a transit center, such as parking decks.

"We won't have a need for this whole parcel. So we want to sell it, but we still have a need for a passenger facility somewhere in Conway and it occurred to me and the leaders in Conway…some of the exciting redevelopment options that they have going on downtown… that we could be a part of that process and it actually moves us closer to the core of the activity and downtown Conway..and we could be good partners with the city," said Piascik.

Piascik said a potential challenge the company might face is finding a buyer for its current property in Conway and also finding a space that's adequately zoned.

The City of Conway said it's open to a possible partnership with Coast RTA.

"We really want to make Conway a destination. We've been talking about that for a long time. We want Conway to be somewhere people want to live, work and play. And so, with our partnership with Coast RTA, we're just looking to bring more people down here, whether it's to shop, eat, visit our Riverwalk. I think that's why we are really open to what he has to say and whatever we can do to help make Coast RTA a better place in Conway," said Taylor Newell, spokesperson for the City of Conway.

Piascik said this is all in the preliminary stage, so nothing is officially set in stone just yet. He hopes to begin the planning process for this as soon as this summer.

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