The city of Greenville appreciates the opportunity to showcase its forward momentum in public transit and give some background to Greenlink Director James Keel’s statement that “the transit system here sucks” [in “Life on the lines,” published in the March 6, 2020, Greenville Journal]. While the quote is textually accurate, when taken out of context it paints a negative light on director Keel, his employees and their work to ensure mobility for all citizens.
The quote was obtained during a reporter’s visit to a Citizens Transit Academy session. Director Keel’s statement was made while leading a session on Greenlink finance and capital. A member of the class said “transit sucks,” referencing how infrequently buses run and the number of bus routes that Greenlink operates. Keel’s response was, “The transit system here sucks. I don’t mind telling you that, but telling you this ain’t going to do a damn thing about it. We don’t have a funding problem, we have a priority problem.”
The intent of Keel’s comment was to encourage citizens to speak up. He went on to tell the group, “If we desire a good, well-funded transit system, the community must ask for it.” Recently Greenville Transit Authority received additional funding to provide longer hours because of public demand. Keel’s comments on “priority” were based on a long history of financial instability, and not the current status of the Greenville Transit Authority or Greenlink. In recent years Greenville Transit Authority has been working successfully with lawmakers, city leaders and community partners to improve public transit.
Recent accomplishments include:
- Implementing the Comprehensive Operations Analysis to examine routes and make improvements. This plan was completed in 2017 and was put into action in July 2019.
- Ongoing planning and analysis of additional routes and hours needed.
- Overhauling a portion of the bus fleet to improve reliability, reduce road calls and save money.
- Implementing technology to provide real-time data to passengers, track on-time performance, and make data- driven decisions on routing.
- Launching TouchPass, an electronic ticketing system for mobile phones and smart cards, giving passengers alternative ways to pay, and allowing a monthly fare pass for the first time. This is a huge benefit to income-conscious individuals who can now budget their monthly transit expenses.
- Deploying four Proterra battery electric buses.
- Installing new information-rich bus stop signs.
- Increasing investments, from the city of Greenville and Greenville County, in Greenlink’s operating and capital funds.
- Planning to build a new maintenance facility.
- Funding to extend hours of service until 11:30 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays.
“Improving Public Transit” is one of nine priorities adopted by Greenville City Council on March 9, 2020. The city will continue to seek public input, follow best practices and offer routes and hours to make Greenlink a reliable option for citizens traveling for work and leisure.