Public Transit in the Lowcountry and the Bus Livability Grant MTAP/SCOPT Savannah December 7, 2010
Public Transit History • Lowcountry Regional Transportation Authority (dba PALMETTO BREEZE) the public transit provider in the region. • PALMETTO BREEZE preceded by Beaufort-Jasper Regional Transportation Authority, formed in 1978 to provide transit service in Beaufort and Jasper Counties. Transit program focused on transporting passengers to jobs on Hilton Head Island and points in-between. • In 1984, Authority expanded to include Allendale, Colleton, and Hampton Counties, with service continuing to focus on transporting residents of more rural areas to jobs in Beaufort County. To reflect addition of these counties, Authority’s name was changed to Lowcountry Regional Transportation Authority.
Public Transit Progress • Demand response service initiated in 1997 to serve some Beaufort County destinations. Additional service focused on transporting employees to work was initiated under the Federal Job Access and Reverse Commute Program (JARC) in 2001. • Significant growth and operational and financial improvements since 2001.
Changed Conditions • More/larger housing subdivisions add to congestion; increased densities make public transit more feasible. • Changing population—older, different ethnic mix, newcomers from cities with transit—creates opportunities. • Increased number of “choice” riders with transportation options (including visitors). • Increased number/size of commercial and medical centers provide transit hubs.
Bus Livability Grant: The Goal “This project is designed to accomplish the transformation of northern Beaufort County from an area dominated by a single mode of transportation to one that offers transportation choices that are accessible to all residents.” Federal Transit Administration (FTA) award announcement in Federal Register
Three-Component System • Public transit service to link northern Beaufort County residents to major employers, shopping areas, and services. • Construction of first phase of multiuse trail on the right-of-way of the former 25-mile Port Royal to Yemassee Railroad. • Construction, repair, and reconfiguration of sidewalks and multiuse pathways to promote safe network continuity by connecting multiuse trail and transit routes to major employers, commercial districts, schools, and residential areas.
Budget • Total amount awarded - $3.1 million • Original grant request - $24.7 million
Priority Phasing • First task of multi-agency Northern Beaufort County Multi-Modal Transportation Network Task Force has been which transit routes and trail segment should be implemented first. • Task Force’s objective is “The biggest bang for the buck,” or making sure that the first phase is successful so that the rest of the project can be implemented.
Operating Funds Features • Large military (6400 active duty military and 1000 federal civil servants in northern Beaufort) market segment eligible for Transportation Incentive Program (TIP)--provides up to $230 a month to take public transit. • Beaufort area tourism industry proposing a sort of “subsidy” in possible form of pre-purchase of passes or tickets for guests of hotels and restaurants. • All other riders will pay fares averaging approximately $2.00 to $3.00 per trip. System will also be eligible for funding from programs such as Non-Urbanized Area Formula Program (Section 5311), Job Access and Reverse Commute Program (Section 5316), and the New Freedom Program (Section 5317).
Results from USCB Survey 90% of County residents would use public transit 78% of County residents indicate there is a need for public transit Almost 93% of non-Beaufort County respondents were visitors or potential visitors to Beaufort Almost 80% of those that did visit the Beaufort area would use public transit
Partners (1) The Task Force. • Beaufort County • Lowcountry Regional Transit Authority (LRTA) d.b.a. Palmetto Breeze • Beaufort Jasper Water Sewer Authority (BJWSA) • The City of Beaufort and the Town of Port Royal • Lowcountry Council of Governments (LCOG) • Tri-Command (Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and Beaufort Naval Hospital)
Partners (2) Community Supporters • Colleges Technical College of the Lowcountry University of South Carolina, Beaufort • Health/Social ServicesBeaufort County Disabilities and Special Needs Beaufort County Alliance for Human Services ABLE The Disabilities Foundation of Beaufort County BJH Comprehensive Health Services Beaufort Memorial Hospital • Non-Profits Pathways Connect Greater Bluffton Pathways Beaufort Chamber of Commerce Coastal Conservation League • Local BusinessesBundy Appraisal & Management, Inc. Quality Inn Ribaut Holdings, LLC The Beaufort Inn Beaufort Town Center