Rider advocates in Charleston, SC have successfully raised the profile of transit as a pressing issue in a special congressional election.
The straphanger group invited all of the Republican and Democrats to ride the bus, discuss transit issue, and meet riders on the prior to this week’s primary election. This program has already successively highlighted transit as an issue in the election and serves as a valuable medium for the candidates to connect with voters.
Here is a recent release from our friends in Charleston:
Charleston, SC- Hungryneck Straphaners (www.busec.org) will renew it’s invitation to take Republican Candidates for US Congress Mark Sanford and Curtis Bostic on a guided CARTA bus ride at a press conference to be held at the Mary Street Transit Center, on the North Side of the Visitor’s Center Parking Garage at 71 Mary Street at 11:15 a.m. on Monday, March 25.
Democratic Nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch took a guided ride on CARTA’s new #41 Coleman Blvd. Route before going on to win the Democratic Primary. 5 Republican candidates for the nomination also took a CARTA ride, but none survived the primary. Every candidate that has been on the bus has stepped out of the partisan bubble to meet real voters on board. Each learned how a transit system which provided over 12 thousand rides per weekday functions making our area’s medical and tourism industries functional. All seven candidates have indicated their ride was an enjoyable and informative part of their campaign.
According to Straphangers Coordinator William Hamilton, with sequester driven budget cuts looming while transit ridership grew locally by 9% over the past year and 6% nationally, it’s important for candidates for Congress to understand transit. There is no substitute for getting on a bus and and meeting other riders there and at the stops. One February ride included a miserable wait in the rain for candidates Turner(R), Hoffman(R) and Carter Center(G) at a stop without a shelter or bench near Bowman Road in Mount Pleasant.
Neither Sanford nor Bostic has accepted the offers for a guided ride since the organization’s Congressional Candidates on CARTA effort started in early February on the request of former candidate Teddy Turner. Sanford and Bostic’s campaigns were both given an invitation at the mid Feburary Freedomworks forum in North Charleston. Transit riders across the Lowcountry contacted candidates from all three parties asking them to ride before the primary after the Straphangers distributed hundreds of postcards at area bus stops.
The Straphanger’s Farebox to Ballot Box Transit Riders Voting effort will continue in April with the distribution of thousands of information cards at transit stops with the candidate’s responses to questions about federal funding for the long delayed Passenger Intermodal Transportation Center in N. Charleston and returning the share of Federal Transportation funding to it’s traditional 20% from a reduced share of 18% approved by Congress Last year. The cards will also tell riders which candidates rode the bus with the organization and provide voting information.