College of Charleston junior Amy Smith never used to think to take a bus around downtown.
“The routes, the times, the cost and payment methods seemed a big hassle”, she explained, “it really felt like a waste of effort.”
Smith’s opinion changed recently, however as she took advantage for the first in December Charleston’s answer to a growing transportation need: the arrival of seven new Downtown Area Shuttle vehicles (DASH).
The new arrivals began service in December of last year in time for the busy holiday season and replaced the previous trolleys used for the last 17 years. The improvements found within the new vehicles are noticeable and much-welcomed among the community.
In addition to more fuel-efficient engines, higher-quality climate control features, and enhanced safety features such as more standing space availability and easily accessible wheel chair ramps, the new DASH shuttles possess a narrower frame from the older trolleys, requiring less space in a rapidly evolving city.
However, it is the more comfortable padded seats that frequent bus and trolley rider James Saunders says matter the most to many riders.
“Many of us I know, we’re unable to drive and depend on the buses, and as a retired citizen riding often these newer seats make it easier to enjoy the service” he explained.
Indeed, the comfort and views of the city are greatly enhanced, as I learned when I participated in a ride recently. Taking Route 210 that travels around the College of Charleston and Aquarium areas, I noticed how easier and more enjoyable the shuttles are for the public.
The new DASH system consists of three routes: Route 210 for College of Charleston and the Aquarium, Lockwood/Calhoun-based Route 213, and Route 211 covering Meeting and King Streets. As with retired trolleys, there is no cost to ride the DASH shuttles.
“I am very proud of what we have achieved and know that these new shuttles are only the beginning of a great change that addresses our transportation needs,” CARTA Board of Directors Mike Seekings told me.
Hours of operation and shuttle stops can be found on the site ridecarta.com Bus users are also encouraged to map rides and updates via the CARTA bus tracker app which can be downloaded for use on mobile phones. Updates and information can also be found on the CARTA Facebook and Twitter home pages.