Charleston Area Bus Service Offers Free Rides in May | South Carolina News

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (AP) — Residents of the Charleston area can ride free buses starting Sunday as the region’s public transportation system launches a campaign to encourage new ridership.

Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority officials said Thursday that all bus rides will be free for the month of May as part of the agency’s “No Pay May” effort, which also aims to cut costs for those who regularly use public buses, The Post and Courier reported.

“It’s a great way for us, in a time when people have many challenges…to give back to our customer base and introduce CARTA to those who may not be driving it,” said Mike Seekings, Chairman of the Board of CARTA.

Passengers will be allowed to use any bus in the system without paying the traditional $2 fare. The initiative, which is a first in the history of CARTA, will continue until May 31.

The No Pay May project excludes CARTA OnDemand rides, which are contracted separately.

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CARTA predicts the initiative will see ridership increase this spring after seeing a drop during the pandemic.

“It’s a way — a pretty big way — to scale our ridership to pre-pandemic numbers and beyond pre-pandemic,” Seekings said.

In addition to removing bus fares, CARTA has made other adjustments this year to make transportation more convenient.

CARTA and TriCounty Link announced a partnership on April 10 with Token Transit, a free mobile ticketing app that offers passengers a cashless payment option and eliminates the need for a paper pass. Passengers now have the option to purchase digital bus passes using credit or debit cards through the Token Transit app. Fares paid through the app can be used at the time of purchase or stored for later use and activation. Cash payments and paper passes will continue to be accepted.

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Melvin Z. Madore