Transportation pilot project saluted by planners

by THE PRESS AND STANDARD | September 14, 2018 5:00 PM
Last Updated: September 11, 2018 at 3:49 PM


Walterboro Works, the bus transportation pilot project that has operated in the city since last October, is receiving some national recognition. Officials of the Lowcountry Council of Governments will travel to Charlotte for the National Association of Development Organizations’ 2018 Annual Training Conference. During that annual session, Lowcountry Council of Governments will be among the planning organizations receiving one of the organization’s Innovation Awards. But receiving the award may be the last hurrah for Walterboro Works. Last year, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce had provided a $100,000 grant to underwrite the costs associated with putting the bus system in place for one year. The goal of the grant was to provide new public transit services to either jobs or training. The bus service operates within the City of Walterboro and surrounding urbanized areas of Colleton County, linking residents with a wide variety of training and employment opportunities. The service operates a brand-new 15-passenger bus six hours a day Monday through Friday, making two circuits during both the morning and afternoon commuting hours to key workforce destinations. Those using the bus to attend vocational training programs or commuting to work at participating employers, rode free. Other residents could use the bus for a $1 fare. LCOG is attempting to secure additional funding from SCDEW to continue running the program a little while longer. “The funding we had would have taken us up to October, but with potential additional funding from SCDEW, we will get through to at least December,” said Ginnie Kozak, planning director for the Lowcountry Council of Governments. Kozak said the regional planning organization knew the program was a success, “but it is nice to get recognition from a national organization.” LCOG’s Palmetto Breeze, the regional bus service, and its partners at Community Transportation Association, “have been pleasantly and positively, sort of, surprised by the ridership,” Kozak said. “I say ‘sort of’ because, speaking for myself, the research and planning work we did before launching the service showed that there was definitely a demand in the areas serviced by the routes.”

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News Update!
How do you currently travel around the Bluffton, Hilton Head and Beaufort area?  Do you drive alone, carpool, or take the bus?  The Lowcountry Council of Governments and Palmetto Breeze are developing a vision for transit and need your help.  Take the transit survey and share your thoughts. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SC-Travel-Survey The online survey is avalible through Friday, March 23. Pass it on!

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The SC Department of Transportation has given the responsibility of transportation planning in the Lowcountry Region to the Planning Department. A Transportation Committee is made up of eight members of the LCOG Board. These responsibilities include:

Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) for the region
The LRTP plan is prepared and implemented using a Technical Committee made up of planning professionals in each county.

Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)
The STIP grant and guideshare funds are administered and monitored for the regional transportation projects. A SC DOT approved detailed project decision-making matrix is used to ensure each project is selected on quantifiable needs.

Palmetto Breeze

Lowcountry Regional Transportation Authority (LRTA)
The Transportation Department works with LRTA/Palmetto Breeze and other partners to improve and extend public transportation services within the region.

Some examples include:

Lowcountry Coordination Plan
Human Services Transportation Coordination Plan
Vanpooling Pilot Project
US 278 Bus Service Business Plan
Bus & Bus Facilities Livability Initiative Program

Lowcountry Area Transportation Study & Metropolitan Planning Organization (LATS & MPO)

  • The Lowcountry Area Transportation Study (LATS) was established in 2013 to be responsible for the new Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in the Hilton Head area. Federal regulations require the formation of a MPO to “provide continuous, cooperative, and comprehensive transportation planning” for urbanized areas with more than 50,000 residents. According to the 2010 Census, the Hilton Head/Bluffton urbanized area hit this mark, becoming the first new MPO in South Carolina in more than 20 years.
  • The partner jurisdictions are Beaufort and Jasper counties, the cities of Beaufort and Hardeeville, the towns of Bluffton, Hilton Head and Port Royal
  • LCOG’s planning department administers the planning process that determines how the area’s federal transportation dollars will be spent.  This includes coordinating the participation of all of the jurisdictions in allocating  the funding for improvements for roads, bridges, public transit, and bicycles, and pedestrian facilities. The process is to promote a safe, effective, efficient, and environmentally sensitive multi-modal system for the LATS area.
  • The MPO is responsible for the development and regular update of:
    • Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) completed in 2015
    • Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)
    • Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP)