MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Public transportation is now a focus for state and local leaders.
Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette held a Regional Mass Transit Forum on Monday with the local community and business leaders at the Myrtle Beach Train Depot. It was the second of several meetings the governor’s office is holding across the state on improving public transportation.
“South Carolina has very different needs and very different issues depending on what city you're in so it made a lot of sense to bring it down to a local level,” Evette said.
Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune and Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner also attended the forum.
Evette said they started the symposium tour after hearing over and over again from businesses about employees not having a reliable way to get to work and people, in general, having a hard time getting around.
“Coast RTA doesn’t operate once I’m out of class at 8:45 at night so it’s a $40 Uber home, it can be a $40 Uber there,” said Heather Edwards, who attended the meeting.
“I was watching them [employees] walk down 21st and 29th Avenue in the rain. I was watching them walk in the middle of the night,” Former Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said.
More than 500,000 people ride the buses and shuttles in Horry and Georgetown counties, which is an increase of 32% over the past 5 years.
During the meeting, Brian Piascik, the general manager of Coast RTA, touched on improvements over the past few years, such as more service to the airport and new routes to rural areas. However, he also spoke about the lack of funding and the need for a new facility.
Piascik said right now they get a little under $3,000,000 from the Road Use fee.
“We need a location closer to the coast where most of our service is and we need something that we can grow in and maintain our fleet properly,” Piascik said.
He said other cities like Daytona, Florida that have similar populations have more than 20 buses compared to Coast RTA’s 14 buses.
“The North Myrtle Beaches and the Socastees of the world, which don’t get a lot of services are now paying into the system and are going to want service, but then by the same token I’ve got to convince the Myrtle Beaches and the Conways of the world that I need more money from them,” Piascik said.