The SmartRide Research Project:
In October of 2003, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) conducted a research project that asked the question, "Will commuters park their automobiles and choose to ride the transit bus to work"? The clear response to the question was "Yes"!
For four full weeks during the month of October 2003, the SmartRide Research Project provided commuter-focused transit service and gathered valuable information about commuter preferences and opinions regarding the use of an alternate form of transportation to get to work.
Is Driving To Work Alone The Only Option For Commuters in South Carolina?
According to Year 2000 U.S. Census data, 79.4% of South Carolina commuters drove to work alone. Carpools, vanpools and mass transit represent other means of traveling to work, but these methods are not used in significant numbers in South Carolina. Does the nearly 80% "drive alone" figure reflect an unchangeable preference or can we design a commuter transit service that would attract the attention and participation of working commuters?
What is Commuter-Focused Transit?
The SmartRide Research Project put together a temporary mass transit service that focused on the needs, concerns and preferences of working commuters. Safe parking areas, convenient bus schedules, courteous and professional transit service, and reasonable fares were important objectives in developing the details of the SmartRide Research Project. By the time that the transit service part of the Project began in October of 2003, a network of Project volunteers, parking facilities, transit vehicles and professionals, participation incentives, and rider surveys were orchestrated to address existing and on-going concerns of SmartRide participants.
How the SmartRide Research Project was Done?
Cooperation was the keyword in putting together the SmartRide Project. From the initial marketing efforts to dropping off the last passenger, partnerships and teamwork formed the basis upon which Project activities were completed.
The Importance of Team-Building and Partnerships.
The SmartRide Research Project demonstrated what could be done through cooperation and teamwork. Effective commuter transit in our cities and towns requires the commitment of employers, community leaders, business operators, state agencies, as well as citizens around the State.
What The SmartRide Research Project Demonstrated?
Between October 6 th and October 31 st, 2003, the SmartRide Research Project served an average of 68 riders daily, and provided a total of 2,730 passenger trips to and from work. The Project demonstrated that workers would be willing to park their cars in order to use a commuter-focused transit service. The results of the Project's General Interest Survey indicated that 41.4% of survey participants were "Very interested" in the SmartRide services. Costs savings and convenience surfaced as primary reasons for interest in the SmartRide Project, as revealed by the General Interest Survey.
The SmartRide Research Project represents a strategy that can potentially improve traffic congestion and air quality conditions in our State. The effective utilization of an expanded network of commuter-focused transit operations could result in the reduction of vehicle miles traveled each year. Overall vehicle miles traveled affects both demand for highway capacity and the level of emissions from motor vehicles. An effective commuter-focused transit system would also increase travel options for residents in participating communities.
How You Can Support Commuter Transit in Your Community?
Successful commuter transit requires a community-wide commitment. Any commuter transit effort that involves a transit operator must be practical and economically feasible for that operator. Your local or regional planning office is a good place to start in determining if there is sufficient interest in commuter transit in your area.
If you have any questions or comments about the SmartRide Research Project, please call the SCDOT Mass Transit Office at (803) 737-0831, or Email Us.
SMART Ride Project Full Report SMARTRideReport.pdf (PDF 3.31 Mb)
SMART Ride Schedule - Newberry smartride_newberry.pdf (PDF 18 Kb)
SMART Ride Schedule - Camden/Lugoff smartride_camden.pdf (PDF 576 Kb)