EASLEY - An Easley public transit system is the "next logical
step" for the city as it continues to grow, according to Frank Curti
who conducted the city's transit study.
Curti presented his findings and recommendations to City
Council Monday night just prior to the scheduled council
After extensive research, including many public transit
meetings, Curti concluded that the City of Easley has a definite
need for a transit system.
In his study, Curti recommend that the city oversee its own
transit system, rather than link up with Clemson Area Transit or
the Greenville Transit Authority.
Curti had explored linking with Clemson Area Transit, as the
city of Seneca pays to do at an annual cost of $550,000 for two
Linking up with CAT would be cost prohibitive, Curti said in
an earlier meeting, and Monday night he recommended against
If city officials decided to proceed with a transit system, they
will need to find a way to fund that system.
"There are two types of expenses in transit: operating and
capital expenses," Curti said.
The city of Easley is not eligible for much federal funding for
transit, Curti said.
"Unfortunately, the feds aren't going to help you much with
your operating costs but the state will," Curti said.
Federal funding comes into play with the system's capital
expenses, Curti said.
Federal funding will contribute up to 80 percent of a
system's capital expenses, Curti said.
"Gasoline's the hardest thing to budget for," Curti said. "Who
knows what it will be tomorrow, much less two or three years
Officials don't need to worry about the buses themselves for
now, Curti said.
"A lot of people think if you're going to have transit, you've
got to buy the vehicles tomorrow," Curti said. "That's one of the
last things you do."
Curti recommended a four-route system introduced in two
Routes 1 and 2, with stops including Wal-Mart, downtown,
the post office, hospital, City Hall and the J.B. 'Red' Owens
Recreation Complex, would be offered initially, according to
Routes 3 and 4 would be added in at the start of the system's
third year, the study said. Stops on those routes would include
the Saco Lowell site, the library, Rock Springs Baptist Church and
several apartment complexes.
The transit study recommends a fare system of $1 per ride,
$0.50 for seniors, children age 6-17 and those with disabilities.
Children under 5 would ride free.
In addition to creating the system itself, officials must
constantly ensure that the system is providing the best service,
"You have to make sure it's working efficiently; it's working
effectively," Curti said. "You've got to monitor it."
An effective monitoring and feedback system could lead to
more federal funding for Easley transit, he said.
"That's what they care about, the public's need," Curti said.
"The federal government wants to see that feedback. They'll be
more than happy to give you money as long as you're meeting
Local funding is crucial in creating transit, Curti said.
"Find out how you're going to pay for this up front," Curti
said. "Look at the communities around you and you'll find out
where the pitfalls are."
He suggested partnering with business and industry to make
Seneca partners with Oconee Memorial Hospital to assist with
"They're providing $50,000 a year," Curti said. "(Hospital
officials) see it as a need."
An Adopt-a-Shelter program could partner with local
businesses to offset the cost of shelter construction and
maintenance, the study stated.
Currently every county in the state, with few exceptions, has
some kind of transit system within that county, Curti said.
Councilman Dave Watson asked if other cities saw an
increase in new businesses and jobs after starting a transit
"What is the return for our citizens?" Watson asked.
Transit isn't a make or break deal for those interested in
moving to the community, Curti said.
"But it helps a lot," he said. "It's one of the first questions
business owners ask. People want to know."
Transit does bring with it an economic impact, Curti said.
"For every dollar spent on transit, you gain $5-8 back into the
economy," Curti said. "A lot of that comes from local investment
and salaries, contracts with local vendors. It also brings more
consumers to stores, with more money to spend."
The study also recommended sidewalk upgrades and the
creation of a downtown bus transfer station.
Reach Jason Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-