Saturday, November 27, 2010

Book Drive for Local Teacher...

Through the ministry Hope North Charleston at Northwood Baptist Church, I have adopted Ms Baker at AC Corcoran Elementary School. She is a First Grade Reading Intervention teacher whose students are below grade level in their reading skills. Many have never been read to and have never owned a book. As an avid reader I find this appalling! One of the things on Ms Baker's wish list is for each of her students to have at least one book of their own. I want to shoot for two each! (50 books total) Any extras can be used to stock her classroom library. Contact me if you'd like to donate books or gift cards for any bookstore. I've set up the book drive as as an event on Facebook:  Book Drive for Ms Baker's Class. Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Making Progress....

The new bus shelters are slowly going up. It seems that most of the larger stops along Rivers Avenue going from Northwoods Mall headed downtown have gotten a new shelter. One young man at the stop yesterday asked, "what's the point of a shelter without a lid?" I'm sure eventually we will get a roof, hopefully before we start getting any real winter weather! I like the fact the entire front isn't wide open like some of the older shelters. This will help protect passengers from the wind and the rain. Hopefully they will give us back our benches. I'm seeing shopping carts at the mall and Walmart stops laying on their sides that people have dragged over to use as seats which makes the stops look trashy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Positive Thoughts on Carfree Living

Great article by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits on living carfree speaks to the many benefits of utilizing our feet and public transportation. Anybody who's on my facebook page has seen the multitude of pictures I take as I walk around Charleston and while I'm waiting for the bus. This morning I stepped off the road for two minutes to snap a couple of shots of changing leaves along Mall Drive. If I had been driving I would have had to continue up the road, found a place to park and then walk back. And most likely I would have been in too much of a hurry to bother with it....thinking maybe next time. Of course by next time the leaves would have fallen. Maybe my mother's right and "normal people" don't live the way I do (carfree). But the numbers are increasing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Second Sunday on King

Just a reminder for Charlestonians, and visitors of course. Today is Second Sunday on King Street, a great way to enjoy shopping and downtown Charleston car free! Info for Second Sunday on King  And don't forget to pick up your Buy Local Card from participating businesses.

Friday, November 12, 2010

West Islip Beach Bus....

I usually point to my experience with Pierce County Transit in Tacoma, Washington in 1982 as my introduction to public transportation. I realized recently however that my first exposure to bus riding goes back to the age of fourteen, the summer my girlfriends and I were first allowed to ride the "beach bus" in West Islip, NY.  I don't remember how it came about, but we were given permission to take the bus to Robert Moses State Park,  field two - the cool beach. Our bus stop was in front of Good Samaritan Hospital. It cost a dollar each way, and we were crammed on that bus like sardines. No air-conditioning, windows wide open, and kids sitting four or five to a seat. We sat on each other's laps and packed the aisle. Loud, rambunctious teenage boys showing off for giggling girls in tank tops and bikinis. Safety? It didn't seem to be a concern back in those days. If we got stuck in traffic, the bus driver rode over the curb and drove on the grass to get around the cars waiting in line for the parking lot.

That same summer my mother decided despite the fact she drove a van with "Mom's Taxi" printed across the spare tire, she didn't need to drive us to the mall. Pulling out the phone book she had me look up the schedule for the regular bus. There were only two options, one ran along Montauk Highway, the other route was on Union Boulevard.  And the schedules were conveniently printed in the yellow pages. My girlfriends and I were thrilled, we could spend a whole day at the mall, not just a few hours. And no adult supervision while we decided how to spend our babysitting money! Talk about a carefree summer, suddenly we had the independence to go to the beach and the mall whenever we chose. Add in the range we could travel on our bicycles, and it seemed our horizons were limitless.

Riding the bus as an adult, commuting to work, appointments and food shopping may not be as much fun as riding the beach bus, or heading to the mall with my girlfriends as a teenager. But it's not the end of the world, and it sure beats walking!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spotlight: Bus 10

Bus 10 is the most heavily traveled CARTA route in the Charleston area. The only recent change in services that can be seen as positive is the increase in bus 10's runs, coming through every twenty minutes between 7am and 7pm on weekdays. And yet it is still often filled to capacity!

Mainly traversing Rivers Avenue, route 10 starts downtown at Meeting and Mary Street, comes up Meeting Street Extension to Rivers Avenue, stopping at Trident One-Stop before going to the Super Kmart then up Highway 78.  It loops around through the front of Charleston Southern University and behind Trident Medical Center to Health South before heading downtown again.

Stops of note on the Highway 78 end of the route include Wannamaker Park, CSU, Trident Hospital and Health South. If you haven't been out that way recently it's built up quite a bit. You'll find a CVS, Wendy's, Zaxby's and Sonic along with East Bay Deli, Brusters and several other restaurants, all within walking distance of the bus.

At Kmart you can transfer to bus 12 if you're going to Dorchester Rd. If you live in the Greenridge Road area there is no stop for bus 10 headed downtown. You have the option of walking to the  Kmart (1.5 miles) or to Northwoods Mall (1 mile). Or you can cross Rivers Avenue (8 lanes of traffic) to catch the bus headed to Trident Hospital and ride back around to get downtown. Depending on the driver you may have to pay a double fare to do so. Coming from Trident Hospital you can transfer to bus 12 at Kmart and get off at Dial America to avoid walking from Kmart or the mall to get back to Greenridge Road.

After Kmart major stops are Northwoods Mall, Ashley Phosphate Rd (Walmart), Trident Technical College, Trident One Stop, and Mall Drive where you can connect to bus 104 going to Tanger Outlets or Park Circle. Then of course there's the Super Stop at Cosgrove Avenue where you can transfer to a number of different buses. Once you get to Meeting and Mary that's considered a Super Stop as well, and there are multiple buses that you can connect to. From Meeting and Mary it's an easy walk to many restaurants, shops and tourist areas, and local events such as the Farmer's Market on Marion Square. If you're not sure about the stop, ask your driver when you get on. Quite a few stops are not marked.  

As a side note, the Super Stop at Cosgrove and Rivers does have rest rooms and vending machines, but you can't be sure it will be open. They seem to close it from time to time on a whim. The restrooms there are usually clean and stocked. The restroom at Meeting and Mary is often out of service and is not at all nice. It's worth taking a short walk to the other side of the parking garage in order to use the pretty bathrooms in the visitors center. They are always clean and well-stocked for the tourists!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

NAACP to act on bus cuts....

According to a recent article in the Post and Courier, the NAACP meeting I posted about did take place last week. I'm not sure who attended since it wasn't publicized. The article states that Dot Scott (the branch president) is going to contact CARTA's director Howard Chapman about the recent cuts in services. Where was the NAACP during the public hearings and board meetings to discuss the options? If the NAACP had rallied it's members before the cuts took effect they might have had some influence. Now I believe it's too little, too late, unless they plan to spend the next year working to reverse the cuts for 2012. Somebody asked me why the NAACP has to make everything about race? Since fifty-percent or more of the bus riders are African-American, doesn't it make sense for the NAACP to get involved? If it will improve services for all passengers I won't quibble about who's using their political clout to make some changes!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Random Images....

Slow progress: The bid was accepted over the summer and the cement was poured several weeks ago at both the Northwoods Mall stop for buses 10 and 12 on Rivers Avenue, and the stop for bus 10 at Rivers and Ashley Phosphate. Not sure what's taking so long with putting up the shelters. Could we at least have our bench back?!

Splash of Color: ditch filled with flowers off Mall Drive.

Awesome Clouds: Seen on a bike ride off Antler Road in North Charleston.