Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Accessible Transportation in Lee County, South Carolina Grows through Coalition Building

Contributed by Krystian Boreyko

Project ACTION recently traveled to Lee County in South Carolina where the sun was hot, the hospitality was unbeatable, and the desire to create accessible transportation solutions in a rural area was pervasive. ESPA was in Lee County for the most recent installment of the Accessible Transportation Coalitions Initiative(ATCI) technical assistance event which involves bringing the disability community and transportation providers together at the local level to determine how they can work together to increase accessible transportation.

Aside from private automobile ownership, very few transportation options exist in Lee County. However, the county has older adults and individuals with disabilities who need better access to jobs, medical appointments, and social events. The coalition assembled for the event was born out of a local Transit Taskforce, which originated as a Quality of Life Committee. The evolution of the group speaks to its vision of public transportation as a means of enhancing access for all residents while strengthening economic development and helping the environment.

Members of the 2011 ATCI Team Lee County, S.C.
Donna Smith and Krystian Boreyko, ESPA’s representatives facilitating the ATCI session, were inspired by the strength the coalition displayed both in its size and the creative ideas of its members. The 38-member team – led by Bettye Scott, O.J. Papucci, and Ann August with Elijah Dinkins providing logistical support – represented a range of community interests, including the Lee County Council, the Bishopville City Council, the Santee Wateree Regional Transit Authority, the Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments and several transit advocates representing people with disabilities and older adults. The two-day event involved discussions on creative solutions for funding public transportation and ways of changing perceptions of public transit in a region where it has not existed before. Coalition members view transportation as more than just a means of getting from Point A to Point B. They see its potential to
  • Bring community members together,
  • Help residents with mobility limitations to live more independently,
  • Increase job opportunities in the County, and
  • Generally turn a rural area into a more livable community where one does not have to be solely dependent upon an automobile to get around.
Project ACTION celebrates the Lee County ATCI Team’s commitment to developing a public transit system with accessibility integrated into its design, and we look forward to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the first bus route!

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