I made it to the CARTA board meeting, which was quite long and mind-numbing. In fact, by the time we got to the end of the meeting where the public is invited to speak, half the board members had already left. I was the only visitor and got up to say my piece. I received an apology from the executive director Howard Chapman, and the chairman of the board Patterson Smith told me if I stayed after the meeting there were a number of people willing to talk to me, and listen to what I had to say. Ginger Stevens who is the general manager for Veolia sat down to speak with me at some length. Ms Stevens apologized for the customer service issue in particular. Mr Chapman also recommended I go to the North Charleston City Council meeting, and contact Councilman Bobby Jameson as he represents my district and had a part in getting the bus stop into Greenridge cancelled. Apparently CARTA has to have approval for their stops from the City Council.
So Councilman Jameson along with the president of a local Neighborhood Committe aka HOA engineered the elimination of the one stop. I still want to know, where were the public hearings, and who exactly is looking out for the safety and best interests of the passengers? That question hasn't been answered as yet. There also appears to be no clear-cut policy for notification of passengers when changes are made. In additon there seems to be a disconnect, or lack of communication between CARTA who oversees the bus service, and Veolia who is contracted to provide the services. In addition, all the local municipalities and various neighborhoods get to put in their two-cent's worth. I'm thinking maybe it's a case of too many cooks in the kitchen! The bottom line however, seems to be that the cancellation of the stop coming out of Greenridge was temporary and due to a problem with Roadwise (the construction crew) blocking the lanes to the point the buses couldn't get through. Supposedly Roadwise has agreed to insure at least one lane is open at all times to prevent this issue from happening again. For the last two days I have been able to catch bus 12 at Dial America as normal.
I did point out to the people I spoke with that with the roadwork, which I'm sure will take months to complete, there should be the option of an alternative stop on Rivers at Greenridge if the road closure were to occur again. The answer was it depends on what the city will allow them to do. Why, oh why, can't anything be simple?!
My plan of action at this point is to contact Bobby Jameson, and figure out how to get off early enough to hit the next city council meeting. As a bonus, I work right next to city hall, so transportation won't be an issue! I think finding and contacting that neighborhood committee, and paying them a visit is going to make the list. I'm also going to contact people at Dial America and Miller Motte Technical school, and all the property managers at the local apartment complexes to let them know what I've learned, and try to get them involved in resolving the issue as well. I think I may have fallen into becoming a community activist in addition to joining the carfree movement by accident!