by THE PRESS AND STANDARD / September 7, 2017
Last updated: September 6, 2017 at 10:54 AM
The plans to introduce a public transit option for Walterboro residents is progressing, but the planners need some local insight as they work to finalize the bus routes and times before the new system begins operation in mid-October.
Although the public transportation initiative will have a priority to provide transportation to Walterboro residents undergoing vocational training and needing transportation to and from their places of employment, Ginnie Kozak, a planner with the Lowcountry Council of Governments, said the transportation system could meet a host of needs. Transportation for those attending training and vocational education programs is the priority of the initiative primarily because that is the focus of the funding helping to fuel the initiative - a $100,000 grant from the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce and the South Carolina Workforce Development Board to the Lowcountry Workforce Development Area.
But, Kozak explained, the bus service will be available for all residents. It would enable residents to get to and from their places of employment, get to doctor's appointments, go shopping and accomplish other tasks that residents face. The planners envision the system servicing approximately 130 riders.
But in order to meet those needs, Kozak said, the planners have to hear from potential users about their needs. The effectiveness and viability of the bus service depends on input from the residents who would likely use the service, Kozak said.
That information can be provided by calling Kozak's Yemassee office at 1-843-473-3958 or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information received will play a role in her work with the Palmetto Breeze in establishing the bus routes, bus stops and route times.
Mary Lou Franzoni, executive director of Palmetto Breeze Transit, said Palmetto Breeze is also seeking comments and information to be used to plan the routing and stops. She said Palmetto Breeze would especially would like to hear from business representatives who believe their employees would benefit from the bus option and from those who might expect to use the bus on a daily basis.
The state grant calls for those attending vocational training use a color-coded ticket system to receive free transportation on the bus. Other riders will be charged one dollar a trip.
The 14-passenger bus that will provide the service was delivered to Palmetto Breeze on Aug. 31. Using the small bus for the Walterboro program has several benefits: operational and maintenance costs will be less expensive and a small vehicle will be better suited to navigating some of the city's narrow streets, Kozak said.
Lowcountry Council of Governments, the LCOG Workforce Development Area and Palmetto Breeze are working on the transportation initiative with Colleton County Adult Education, Colleton County Economic Development, Vocational Rehabilitation, the Community Transportation Association of America and local businesses.