Use of free CARTA services increasing among students

The College spends $100,000 per year so that students, faculty and staff can ride CARTA free of charge. CARTA connects West Ashley, Mount Pleasant and North Charleston with the peninsula. (Photo courtesy of TheDigetel via Flickr Creative Commons.)

The College spends $100,000 per year so that students, faculty and staff can ride CARTA free of charge. More students are riding CARTA now than in past years. (Photo courtesy of TheDigetel via Flickr Creative Commons.)

The average price for gas in South Carolina is $3 per gallon, which adds up for students who commute to downtown Charleston for class every day.

The College of Charleston offers an alternative means of commuting through CARTA, Charleston’s public transportation authority. The College pays $100,000 a year for access to the entire CARTA system, including regular and express buses and the aquarium shuttle. Faculty and students can ride free of charge on any of CARTA’s¬†services as a result of this partnership.

Jan Brewton, director of parking services, said she highly recommends students take advantage of the express. CARTA express transports commuters from areas such as James Island, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant and West Ashley directly to and from the downtown area with no stops. Express also offers “park and ride” locations in which riders can park their cars free of charge close to a bus stop and ride the bus the rest of the way. According to Brewton, the number of student riders is increasing.

“It’s worth it. I have been riding since express started and the amount you save in gas alone is phenomenal,” Brewton said.¬†Brewton said she sees the express as beneficial to students and faculty as a way to avoid the hassle and stress of driving downtown and paying for parking.

Despite these benefits, some some student commuters, such as Amanda Gorby, still prefer to drive. Gorby commutes from West Ashley to the College by car, as she believes it is much better than riding CARTA.

According to Brewton, the College has made a deal with Enterprise rent-a-car that will give students access to an SUV and a small car. Students will be able to reserve cars on Enterprise’s website and pay by the hour, which is convenient for trips to the beach or the grocery store. Students 18 years or older can pay the projected $35 membership fee to reserve the vehicles,” Brewton said.

The deal is expected to go into effect in January.

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