Connectivity is a crucial part of what makes a place livable. For people to be able to have a job, there must be a means of getting there. With Greenville’s rapid growth, more industries are moving in. How will people get to these new jobs as more people are having to move away from the city center? Greenville’s public bus service, Greenlink, is one option, but it lacks resources to fully meet citizens’ transportation needs. Piedmont Health Foundation, a local philanthropic organization, works alongside Greenlink, providing recommendations for system improvements through data gathered about transit need and use. Their 2015 Mobility Study found that 51% of respondents that “do not own a car” agreed that “lack of transportation impacts [his/her] day-to-day life” (Public Transit, C-23). Living in the Atlanta area before college revealed to me that expanding roadways does not solve our transportation problems. We as a Greenville community are faced with the challenges of how to provide reliable and accessible transit options for residents both new and old.
Currently Greenlink is hosting sixteen public hearings gathering suggestions about the new proposed routes. While operating within the current budget, Greenlink hopes to make a more efficient system with bidirectional service instead of loop service. This will allow for bus stops on both sides of the road reducing some of the need to cross busy streets such as White Horse Road. Having greater efficiency would show that Greenlink uses the money they have in the best possible way. The focus on efficiency changes the routes in some areas where ridership is low. However, some riders will lose the ability to ride if they do not have a personal vehicle. There is not an easy answer to this situation. These new route change proposals are the first step for Greenlink in the creating of a development plan which will show what the system could be with more funds. Having a concrete plan to propose will hopefully bring in needed funds and support from business as well as governmental entities.
How does Furman fit into this system?
Currently, Furman is the last stop on Route 3 (bright green) which will go straight to and from downtown based off the new proposal. Furman has the opportunity to work with Greenlink to envision Route 3 to be an integral part of transportation for the Furman community. Shorter wait times and longer hours could benefit not only Furman students but faculty, staff members, and current riders of Route 3. Staff and faculty that live on the route could more easily rely on the bus thus decreasing car use or allow for more flexibility in their schedule. This would also benefit students, especially international students, to have options for going off campus. In addition, providing opportunities for young adults to engage in commuter behavior during their college experience would likely encourage the continued use of alternative transit modes after graduation. These changes would allow community members to be able to get to work quicker and reach amenities easier. Increasing ridership on Route 3 would emphasize the need and importance of investment in Greenville’s public transportation system. Connecting with the Greenville community is something that Furman desires, and mobility is a significant way to provide this connection. This the time to act and be creative!
Piedmont Health Foundation (2016, June). Public Transit and Health and Human Services Transportation Study, Final Report Appendices. Pages 1-99. Retrieved from http://piedmonthealthfoundation.org/our-focus-transportation-mobility/mobility-study/