Looking to expand public transportation

Myrtle Beach, SC - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Grand Strand leaders say expanding mass transportation will help create a better area for people live and visit.

Shelly Barnett and her husband Kevin are on a seven day vacation in Myrtle Beach, and so far have taken a taxi everywhere they went. Shelly says she didn't know there was a bus system in Myrtle Beach.

"No, no particular reason. I would use it if I knew how to utilize it," Barnett said. "It's frustrating because you don't know where things [are]. You don't know addresses of locations and you get in a taxi you tell them they know where it is and they take you."

Publicity is a problem Coast admits it has, and one the agency says it wants to fix by expanding service, which would make it easier for visitors and residents to get around. They say it would also make the Grand Strand more appealing for industries looking to move to the area. Leaders at Coast RTA say they would like to expand service but they need the money to pay for it.

"As our area continues to grow we know that we're going to have to continue to offer services because of industries that are coming in our area because it's part of the infrastructure," Yvette Jefferson with Coast RTA said. "We would love to cover the north corridor. We have many requests from people trying to up in that end and these funds would definitely be able to help us to be able to look farther into that."

In last week's election, voters approved a referendum that would let Horry County increase property taxes to give the agency permanent funding. But so far county council members have not taken any action and it maybe next budget year before Coast gets the extra money. In Myrtle Beach, the city has cut funding, but City Councilman Michael Chestnut says he's like the city to pitch in.

"There's a lot of people that don't have transportation to get to work, and I think also during the summer time, I think that it's important to be able to get our visitors around from one place to the other," Chestnut said. "I think it will make a better Myrtle Beach. The more tourists we can have come to Myrtle Beach and they can enjoy themselves and have fun and park their cars at the hotel."

Coast says they would like to bring back the Broadway to Market Common route and add routes in the North Myrtle Beach area where they are currently getting many requests.

In addition, Johnson says all veterans and active military will be able to ride the Coast RTA for free on Thursday in observance of Veterans Day.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.