Charleston mayor: Bus rapid transit critical to transportation infrastructure

A successful bus rapid transit system (BRT) is critical to reducing traffic throughout the region, according to Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.

Plans will continue this year for the BRT, with the first more than 23-mile corridor connecting Summerville to the city's downtown.

But the system, which is promoted by the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG), is not expected to be fully operational until 2025.

"We continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to ensure the BRT will offer a fast, reliable public transit option for our citizens," Tecklenburg told Palmetto Business Daily.

The mayor also referred to transportation in his state of the city speech, saying that his office has worked "with our residents and Charleston County to begin the process of building out more than $2 billion in new and improved roads, green space and bus rapid transit in our region."

The BRT, which has an estimated cost of $360 million to $400 million, will have a dedicated right of way for its fleet of buses, signal priority, as well as raised platforms and a pre-pay service.

This fleet of buses includes 16 hybrid-electric vehicles, which will stop at stations with park-and-ride facilities, at transit hubs, in neighborhood and centers, including Summerville, Trident Health/CSU, Northwoods Mall, North Charleston, the Amtrak Station and downtown Charleston.

It is expected to have a 60-minute travel time with service every 10 minutes at peak times.

It has been welcomed by business leaders, including the Chamber of Commerce, which in a white paper on transportation stated: "The BRT line will provide a fast and reliable alternative to sitting in traffic."

The chamber added, "Properly executed, BRT can provide a reliable transportation source that is convenient enough that people choose to use BRT over driving, especially to and from work.

"A BRT system is the most feasible for our area in terms of costs and population due  to the flexibility of going from fixed use lanes to mixed traffic. In the future, if other options become feasible there will already  be some fixed lanes in place to be utilized."

Charleston County’s passage of the half cent referendum last year pledges $250 million for BRT. The BCDCOG is applying for matching federal funds to make up the $360 million to  $400 million.

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