|Pickens County has rejected a plan to join Greenville Transit Authority in applying for nearly $100 million in federal funds for a proposed regional â€œbus rapid transitâ€ system that could connect some Pickens County municipalities with Greenville.
â€œThe main issue that council was wrestling with is it’s great to apply for all of these funds but then the operating cost had never been discussed,â€ said County Administrator Chappell Hurst. â€œIt was more about not understanding how all of it would work more so than the proposal itself.â€
Hurst said county officials received the proposal on the application for what is called a federal TIGER grant a couple weeks ago and said those involved wanted the application to be submitted this week.
According to the proposal, the regional bus rapid transit service could have a dedicated bus way linking downtown Greenville to ICAR as well as routes connecting Clemson University and Greenville and Travelers Rest and Fountain Inn.
â€œIt was their (Greenville Transit Authority’s) proposal and nobody had ever really contacted us until they just sent us a document that was already prepared,â€ Hurst said. â€œIt seemed awful quick.â€
Neither Greenville city nor GTA officials could be reached for comment.
Council voted 5-1 to not approve the proposal for the grant application. Councilman Jim London voted against the motion, saying that the grant could cover significant capital costs that could speed up the process for getting a system in place.
â€œLong-term, 10 years from now, we need to have something like that in Pickens County,â€ London said.
Council Chairman G. Neil Smith said he’s open to looking at the issue again but said the quick turnaround was a problem.
â€œI’m not opposed to the proposal,â€ Smith said. â€œI’m in favor of looking at buses. My problem is I know enough about bus systems, and it’s almost impossible to make them work without putting other sources in.â€
He said the proposal includes about $42 million for buses but said he isn’t certain those buses would actually be used in Pickens County.
Hurst said council wasn’t told how the operating costs would be funded or how the system would be run, including whether Greenville Transit Authority would govern the system or if Pickens would have representation on a board.
According to the proposal, bus rapid transit refers to â€œa variety of public transportation systems that use buses to provide a service that has a higher speed, greater passenger capacity and comfort than an ordinary bus line.â€
It said the goal of the systems is to provide a quality of service similar to light rail but with the lower capital and operating cost of bus transit.