2017 was a year of significant progress at Greenlink, Greenville County’s public transit system. Thanks to the leadership of its staff and board members, Greenlink is making changes to be more responsive and rider-friendly in the near term and to anticipate growth and community needs in the future.
Adoption of route changes. Greenlink completed twenty public hearings to share results of its Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA) of the system and the route changes it recommends. These changes, approved by the Greenville Transit Authority board in December, will be the first significant adjustments made to the routes in decades. Community members who attended the sessions were excited to see plans to add more bidirectional service and more transfer points outside of downtown, and riders of the busy route serving Furman, Cherrydale, and Rutherford Road were thrilled to see that this route will be split in two to improve crowding and on-time service.
Addition of an Intelligent Transit System (ITS). Thanks to the philanthropic support of our partners The Graham Foundation, Hollingsworth Funds, and the Jolley Foundation, Greenlink riders will soon be able to track on their phones the location of their bus and see how full it is. This is a long-desired benefit for riders who can now see if the bus is early or late, and it will help provide the real-time data Greenlink staff need to make smart business decisions.
Other technology advancements are coming, including an electronic payment system (for those with credit cards, no more counting out quarters for the bus ride) and the much anticipated purchase of two Proterra buses (with delivery expected in late 2019).
Progress on the Transit Development Plan. The TDP considers the Greenlink network from 2020 through 2024 and ways to make it useful to more residents in Greenville city and county. It recommends a prioritized service plan that demonstrates where and how Greenlink should operate expanded services in the next five years and identifies costs for this expansion. The TDP was recommended as a phase two in our 2015 mobility study and was funded in part by the Piedmont Health Foundation.
After surveying riders and community members, holding community focus groups, and considering Greenlink’s operational opportunities and constraints, the TDP draft offers the following recommendations:
• Extend weekday service from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., cost = $800,000
• Expand Saturday service to 5:30 a.m. (from 8:30 a.m.) through 11:30 p.m. (from 5:30 p.m.), cost = $323,000
• Improve all weekday routes to 30 minute frequency (from 60 minutes), cost = $3,000,000 plus $7,700,000 in capital costs for expanded fleet
• Add Saturday frequency (increasing from 60 minutes to 30 minutes), cost = $367,000
• Add Sunday service (60 minute frequency over 12 hours), cost = $548,000
The plan also considers adding routes to provide more crosstown and connecting service as well as service for commuters from Easley.
Of course, these expansions are all contingent upon increases in funding.
But with Greenlink’s positive demonstration of its responsiveness, innovation, and strong stewardship of resources, combined with the significant growth we are seeing in Greenville County, the case for greater investment is becoming clear.