Let's Talk About Transportation- Greenville Edition
Updated: Mar 7, 2018
Transportation and affordable housing go hand in hand.
At United Housing Connections we do our best to place people who do not have their own method of transportation in homes close to public transportation. Through Greenlink, many of our clients are able to stay employed, go to school and access services. However, the hours and routes of Greenlink are limited and often unable to best assist their passengers. Greenlink has begun work to tackle these issues, but what they are looking for now is community support as they begin to pursue funding and backing for their upcoming projects. Continue reading to find out why public transportation is so important and how you can help Greenlink provide the best services possible.
Less than a month ago, Greenville found out that over 150 residents of the Economy Inn off Augusta Rd had been told to leave their home in less than a day when the Economy Inn was condemned. Through this terrible situation, United Housing Connections was able to meet Craig at the Nicholtown Missionary Baptist Church. While dropping off work clothes that were selflessly donated by the Greenville community, Craig eagerly helped organize the clothes and shared his story. He had moved to Greenville and finally found a home that he could afford at the Inn. However, he soon lost it with their abrupt closure. Craig was set to start a new job the day that we met him, but he had not yet found a home and was staying at the church, where he is also a member. He explained that although he’d like to live close to the church, he was looking at apartments closer to his job because he worked the night shift and couldn’t rely on Greenlink to get him there late at night.
The Greenlink Route Schedule
The apartment he decides on has to be affordable and close enough to his job so he can walk. This means living further away from the family and support system he has found at the church and settling for an apartment that isn’t his first or even fifth choice. But Craig is happy to have a job and hopeful about finding somewhere to live.
However, we have to ask ourselves as a community, is allowing Craig live further away from the only support system he knows in Greenville the best way to ensure his success?
Many in our community are pursuing higher education and investing in themselves by working towards their degrees. Greenville Technical College serves over 15,000 students in Greenville, many of whom must also keep jobs to pay for their education and cost of living. With all of these costs, it may be hard for them to keep a reliable car so they rely on Greenlink’s Route 1 to be running on time and frequently. But, for those who work a typical 9 to 5 schedule, Greenville Tech has many evening courses available which last until 7:20 to 10:00 at night. These students can’t take the bus home because service ends at 6:30 at night so they must work even more hours and stretch themselves even further to afford a car or give up on their dream of furthering their education.
Food deserts are defined as parts of the country that do not have fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods available, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.
This map of food deserts around Greenville County depicts areas that are low-income neighborhoods where a supermarket is over 1 mile away. Typically, these residents do not have their own car and rely on Greenlink to get to the store. As noted above, Greenlink does not run on Sundays and has limited evening hours, making runs to the grocery store nearly impossible. Click here for an interactive map of the Greenlink bus routes, which would help many of these low-income residents reach stores if the hours of service were more conducive to their off work hours.
What’s Next for Greenlink
With the help of Piedmont Health Foundation, Greenlink is working to create a five-year plan for expansion, calculate the costs for each improvement and identify potential funding sources.
Below are basic action steps as proposed by the Director of Public Transportation, Gary Shepard, during their talk at Beer and Napkins on February 13th.
Replace Old Bus Models with Electric Buses
Replace three buses that should have been replaced in 2014 with electric buses.
Extend Service Hours to the Existing System
Add New Routes
Greenlink plans to add routes to expand service areas to Greer, Travelers Rest and Fountain Inn, to add routes that go across town and to add Commuter Routes from park and ride lots from key corridors to downtown.
These updates will be expensive, but are vital to those that rely on Greenlink so while community members seek out funding sources, you can help by voicing your support for these efforts.
How You Can Help
1. Go on a Transit Field Trip!
Piedmont Health Foundation has two upcoming Greenlink Field Trips coming up. Catch one of Greenlink’s buses to the Transit Center for a one hour presentation about Greenlink’s operations, changes, and future. The whole experience takes about two hours when including the time spent traveling to and from the Transit Center on a Greenlink bus.
For tickets and more information select a date below:
If you have any questions, dietary restictions, or would like to book a group trip, email Sean Rusnak at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (864) 752-8888.
2. Contact your County and City Council Members.
Write or call your County and City council members to let them know that you think public transit is important in Greenville and that it needs to be funded appropriately.
3. Sign up for our newsletter.
Sign up for the United Housing Connections newsletter here to be updated on opportunities for advocacy, such as County Council meetings where transportation will be discussed. Strength in numbers is so important at these meetings because they show council members that there is a real concern from private citizens in our community.
By becoming an advocate for better public transportation, you are advocating for many Greenville residents to have access to the things they need to survive and to thrive. Your voice is very important to this issue.