Is a park and ride the answer to hospitality workers’ parking woes?

Easy rider

On Thurs. Nov. 2, Charleston Visitor Bureau CEO Helen Hill announced what she believes is the solution to Charleston’s hospitality parking woes: a park and ride across the street from the Royal American at 995 Morrison Drive.

“I believe we can protect and promote our destination all at the same time,” she said at a business lunch at Hall’s Chophouse Thursday, according to Post & Courier. “We’re going to make this park and ride work.”

The CVB plans to advertise the program which is being developed by the City, Charleston County, and The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments.

“Our plan is to roll it out in January,” says City Councilman and chairman of the board that governs CARTA, Michael Seekings. “I don’t want to sound too noncommittal. It will happen soon. We’re shooting for January.”

Once operational, dedicated Carta buses will shuttle hospitality members from the lot down the peninsula. And though the details on price are still being decided, Seekings says the goal is to make it very affordable for the consumer.

Seekings’ early guess is that the area allotted for the park and ride will likely max out at 250 spaces. Of course, according to College of Charleston’s July Office of Tourism Analysis, roughly 7,700 are employed by the city’s 345 food and beverage establishments and 45 hotels. And Seekings is realistic that this one lot won’t be able to cover them all. But this is a start that he hopes will lead to a push for more park and rides.

“All this pressure on parking downtown on hospitality, we’re going have to park in mass and move people in mass,” Seekings says. “It’s a model that works and it’s a model we should have adopted a long time ago.”

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