Friday, July 16, 2010

TriCounty Link.....

TriCounty Link is one of the best-kept secrets in the Charleston area. According to a recent article in the Post and Courier, the S.C. Department of Transportation recently named TriCounty Link the Best Rural Public Transportation Provider of 2010 in the state. While the services are limited, they are important, particularly for those living in places such as Moncks Corner, Ridgeville and other rural locations. Take a look at the route maps to see what areas they cover, you'll be surprised at where public transportation is actually available!  TriCounty Link services Dorchester and Berkeley Counties, and has a partnership with CARTA to allow passengers to use the transfer from either service to go connect with and ride between the two, making Charleston accessible to these rural areas.

 I took advantage of this service last summer, using a CARTA transfer (only twenty-five cents) to ride a Tricounty Link bus to Moncks Corner. The smaller buses are clean and very comfortable, the drivers and office staff friendly and helpful. The biggest downside I found to the service was the limited availability, I was stranded in Moncks Corner for about four hours because they only run during rush hours in the morning and afternoon. Fortunately I was within walking distance to the main office, and a customer service rep invited me to come wait in their lobby until the buses started running again. After finding a Subway for lunch I took her up on the offer, arriving at the terminal moments before a huge thunderstorm hit. While getting to and from Moncks Corner for a traffic ticket was an all day affair, at least it was doable!

According to the research I've done TriCounty Link has some innovative approaches to service, things like Link to Lunch in Moncks Corner which provides free shuttle service between businesses and restaurants at lunch time. They've also recently added Wi-Fi access to some of the buses. I like the fact they are a Flag Stop service, so you can wave them down anywhere along the route. Bus passes are available to purchase on the buses themselves, so you don't have to make an extra trip when your pass expires. The article talks about their growth being slow and methodical, yet their ridership increased thirty-nine percent between July 2009 and March of this year. It also points out how well TriCounty Link makes the most of limited funding. While there is a huge difference in the size of the companies and the services being provided, maybe CARTA should consult TriCounty Link for ways to improve their services as well as stretching their funds!

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