..the following is an editorial in friday's Post & Courier...
Early counts indicate that free DASH service is attracting a significant number of bus riders downtown. And while you would expect more people to ride for free than to pay to ride, the trend is nevertheless encouraging.
The ridership numbers are promising. The Meeting Street/King Street route, which has been expanded to include the city Market, had three times as many riders during the last week in November as it did that week in 2009. The first week in December, 2,428 people rode that route, more than twice the year before.
When marketing efforts begin, it is reasonable to expect even more DASH customers. And when numbers jump this spring as they are wont to do (a threefold increase is not unusual), riding the "trolley" could assume a much higher profile on the peninsula.
Providing residents and visitors a reason to ride the bus could pay off if they find it is more convenient than driving and parking, and if they then decide to rely more on alternate transportation in general. Fewer cars means less congestion, lower emissions and fewer parking problems.
The idea for free bus service downtown was advanced by the Peninsula Task Force, a committee that has been meeting since last spring with the aim of protecting the peninsula's "delicate balance" of residential and commercial interests, locals and visitors, growth and preservation.
The city is acting on another suggestion from the committee. Soon it will establish three bike parking corrals in response to complaints that people are discouraged from biking because they cannot find places to park their bikes.
As a test, two parking spaces on King Street and one on St. Philip Street will be equipped with racks where bicycles can be locked.
For generations, cities have been planned with cars in mind. It is encouraging that CARTA and the city of Charleston are responding to the public's interest in making this a more friendly place for alternate transportation.
(to read it on the Post & Courier web site click here)
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