Getting There From Here by Expanding Public Transportation – A GADC CEO Perspective

Recently, a coalition of groups including the Greenville Area Development Corporation helped with a study to assess how several changes in the existing public transportation network could enhance workforce participation. Commonly recognized as one of the biggest barriers to employment in the Greenville area, the Workforce Data Collaborative study confirmed that Greenlink changes including longer service hours, additional routes and providing park-and-ride locations would be welcomed by both employers and employees, especially in the urban core of Greenville.

The study found that 25% of downtown employees would definitely or probably use an expanded bus service schedule, and 43% of employers would consider funding a stipend for bus tickets. Cost and availability of parking are often cited as an issue for hotels and restaurants which struggle to maintain full staffing. An expanded bus service would not entirely solve this problem but would be one strategy to address the shortage. And it may also help alleviate the steadily growing traffic congestion, especially at peak hours of the workday.

For the past several years, Greenville has practically been at full employment levels. Anything that can be done to expand the workforce is worthy of consideration. Adding additional bus routes to our manufacturing employment centers including SC TAC, Augusta Grove and the Pelham Road area could result in greater workforce participation by those who cannot own or maintain an automobile. Companies around Greenville would no doubt welcome any assistance to lower this significant employment barrier.

As our area continues to grow and evolve, an efficient and reliable transportation network will be critical to our sustainability. Despite our relatively small size, the urban core of Greenville has added substantial numbers of new multi-family housing units, office space and restaurants that help to create the scale of economy needed to operate an efficient public transit system. An expanded Greenlink would also be welcomed by the increasing numbers of business and leisure visitors that rely on ride service companies, especially in the evening hours.

Often seen as ‘ride subsidy’ for lower income individuals, public transportation is actually an inevitable consequence of urban growth. Without a reliable and effective transit network, we will be less attractive for companies who otherwise see Greenville as a viable location for new or expanding operations. Along with the other members of the Workforce Data Collaborative including the Greenville Chamber, Appalachian Council of Governments and SC Works, the GADC is proud to be part of the solution to this issue that threatens our continued growth and development.

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