The city is getting on board with Rock Hill’s free bus system

Rock Hill’s new My Ride bus system, which launched July 1, has been on the road to success in its first month.

And the system is likely to be more popular when school starts, said Erick Hawkins, city transit administrator.

Hawkins said, at a council meeting earlier this week, that the city projected that the free bus system will transport 4,100 riders a week in its first year. The system was just shy of its goal, transporting about 3,700 riders last week.

Once public schools and universities are back in session, Hawkins said he expects that number to increase by 500-1,000 riders a week.

The buses run 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with the downtown and Knowledge Park loop extending service to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Buses run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

The seven Proterra Catalyst, 35-foot buses, manufactured in Greenville, S.C., are electric and feature free Wi-Fi, charging ports, “infotainment” screens and bike racks. All are ADA compliant with wheelchair ramps, automatic voice annunciation systems, destination and route signs and priority seating with wheelchair securing systems.

Federal grants, city contributions and partnerships with Winthrop University, Piedmont Medical Center and Family Trust Federal Credit Union allow the city to run the service at no cost to riders, The Herald previously reported.

The downtown and Knowledge Park loop, which started on June 10, runs every 30 minutes, connecting Winthrop and downtown. That loop received the least traffic in the first month, averaging about 439 rides a week.

But Hawkins said once Winthrop starts, he expects the ridership to increase by 80 percent.

The Saluda Road and Heckle Boulevard loop, which runs hourly, serves Piedmont Medical Center, and Saluda and West Main streets, Herlong Avenue, and Heckle and Constitution boulevards. That loop, which received the most traffic, averaged about 890 rides a week.

The Cherry Road and Riverwalk line, which runs hourly, connects downtown, Winthrop and Riverwalk via Cherry Road. The route averaged about 637 rides a week.

And the Dave Lyle Boulevard and Galleria line, which connects downtown with the Galleria Mall, averaged 753 rides a week in the first month.

Hawkins said in five months, he hopes to establish permanent bus stops and put up bus shelters at the busiest stops.

“When you set up things new, there’s sometimes some issues that you don’t expect,” Mayor John Gettys said. “And you all handled some issues that could have been very difficult very well, very professionally and the businesses that were impacted and cured by your hard work are very complimentary.”

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