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DYK: Greenlink’s past total revenue was $5,666,655? In comparison, Charleston’s public transportation total revenue was $19,629,699 while Columbia’s equated $19,235,384. Why the huge gap you ask? One word: funding.
Time for another stat. Greenlink has a budget of $5.4 million for 2018. Greenville County and the City of Greenville (excluding trolleys) make up only 8% of the budget, respectively. There is a lack of dedicated funds to assist with solving the issue + it does not help that the federal government’s role in public transportation is diminishing. (Less money, more problems.) Due to the lack of funds 14% of unemployment in Greenville is blamed on the public transportation system, while the 11% dropout rate at Greenville Tech is attributed to public transportation also.
So what is being done? Gary Shepard, who serves as the Director of Public Transportation, offers a hint of optimism for the future. The Chamber of Commerce has agreed to assist with funding + shared their ideas in their Public Policy Guide. The Chamber believes that creating a plan to extend the operating hours of Greenlink will help with the funding issues. If people are able to get to work, it will be beneficial to the citizens + GVL’s public transportation system. Greenlink plans to add new routes to areas in Greer, Travelers Rest, + Fountain Inn, increase route frequency to 30 minutes + service routes to unserved areas.
These all seem like great additions, but our help is still needed. Gary has gone to bat for more funding multiple times, but it also needs to come from the urging of the public. If we expect changes and more money, sometimes it can be just as simple as asking. Here is an opportunity to “use our voice” by calling our local councilman/councilwoman, attending meetings + forums, or becoming a sponsor (we’re talking to you, big spender).
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To find out what the future of Greenville’s transportation may look like, we went to an Automated Transit Network (ATN) Feasibility, Mobility Options, & GreenPods workshop with local transportation experts.
A possible solution for our transportation issue: an ATN (or GreenPods). These pods may seem futuristic or even unrealistic but hear us out for a second.
A route would be created in downtown GVL, from University Ridge to Stone Avenue. Eventually, the route would link CU-ICAR off Laurens Road along the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail to the downtown area, with hopes that GreenPod routes could eventually cover a majority of our county (~30 minutes from Mauldin to West Greenville). These pods would run on a track elevated off the ground and sit six people + standing room for up to 10.
How would it work though?
It’s actually pretty simple. You head to the nearest station, which would be much closer than any current bus stops. You put in your location, pay a very small fare (~$1.50 which would pay for the construction + capital costs). Not to mention, little to no wait times (4 minutes at most).
Transportation problems we currently face: congestion, pollution, access, connectivity, danger with infrastructure, weather, truck drivers, cost, comfort (potholes), convenience, land use, distracted drivers, service area, trip time, quality of life
Solutions GreenPods could bring:
🚆 No damages to roads + less traffic
🚆 Minimal pollution
🚆 Congestion: Bypasses stations for direct trips (hello Target, see ya Woodruff Road traffic)
🚆 Less collisions: West Virginia University has their own rapid transit network, which has been in service since 1975. It’s never once had a collision (think of allllll the crashes that block I-85 + the number of lives that could be saved). Watch a video of it here.
🚆 Trip time: Goes over traffic, therefore bypassing congestion + stop lights
🚆 Transportation for all, service area + a better quality of life: While Greenlink is working to provide more routes, better schedules and more buses, GreenPods would provide transportation across a larger space at a price point and time point that is feasible for all.
More history on personal rapid transportation vehicles in Greenville *here*.
Some feedback from our readers:
The community is now starting to better the transportation concerns, be it different service models that riders need, parking concerns or the crowded streets. Parking solutions outside of the downtown corridor (vs more parking structures in the downtown area that attract yet more vehicles on the streets) and innovative ways to move people from off-site parking to the downtown corridor makes sense. Plus, there are many existing successful models in other communities that can be explored. Any solution, be it more parking structures, more funding for public transportation all take money. Now is the time to plan for the long term. – Bob B.