Lowcountry Rapid Transit
What is Lowcountry Rapid Transit?
Forget everything you assume about taking public transit in Charleston. Lowcountry Rapid Transit is a new model for mass transit in our community. This mass transit service operates along a fixed route, similar to light rail (without the rails). The vehicles have dedicated lanes, so they can move faster than single-occupancy vehicles and traditional buses. They arrive every 10 minutes and have synchronized traffic signals that allow the vehicles to cut through automobile congestion.
Charleston has already taken several steps towards making Lowcountry Rapid Transit a reality. Charleston County included $600 million for mass transit in the half-cent sales tax referendum that passed in November 2016. The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG) is applying for federal matching funds, and has completed a 15-month study to identify a 22-mile corridor for Lowcountry Rapid Transit along I-26, from Summerville to Charleston. More about the study is here.
Where will it go?
The first phase of Lowcountry Rapid Transit is proposed to run along US 78/52 (Rivers Avenue) between Summerville and downtown Charleston with approximately 18 stops along the route for a total commute from start to finish taking approximately one hour to complete. While final determination for the route and station locations has not yet been finalized, the vehicles would run primarily along a dedicated lanes on the existing median of Rivers Avenue. In the urban areas where there is not room to incorporate dedicated lanes, they would mix with traffic.
Stations would be located in the medians of roadways allowing buses to pull up and quickly load prepaid passengers just like a subway or light rail system. Certain stations would be be designed to accommodate park and ride features or serve as transit hubs were riders can connect with local CARTA buses. Station locations are indented to promote economic development for the surrounding communities with opportunities for Transit Oriented Developments like walkable, mixed-use developments or retail/commercial centers.
The proposed initial route is intended to serve as the first phase and spine of a future regional mass transit system for the tri-county area.
How to get involved
The Conservation League brought on Jasmine Gil, Community Outreach Coordinator, to build a team of support for Lowcountry Rapid Transit in the region. If you have not spoken to her already and you support investing in mass transit in our region, click here to sign our petition and Jasmine will follow up and help you get more engaged. If you want to learn more about Lowcountry Rapid Transit, visit the National BRT Institute’s web page. You can read case studies where BRT is working today — from New Jersey to Australia. We hope that Charleston will soon be on the list with our own special version of rapid transit!