Dani is a writer and actress who loves to learn and share tips and information to help others. She lives in Myrtle Beach, SC.
It's easy to ignore the perils of a public bus system when you drive your own car. I'm guilty of that—I never thought about Myrtle Beach's public buses, called Coast RTA, until I got into a car accident and had to temporarily get around town on the bus. I was suddenly aware of the pitfalls of public transportation here. I don't see how people ride these buses long-term.
The Myrtle Beach bus system is, in a word, terrible. Don't get me wrong, they're better than no transportation at all—but only slightly. Here are five improvements that Coast RTA could implement to make the system better.
1. Allow Routes to Intersect
I think it's incredibly bizarre that the only way to transfer to another bus route is downtown at the transit. That means you have to ride out of the way just to get on a different bus, or you'll have to get off at a stop and walk 30 minutes to an hour to get to your final destination. Either way, it's very inconvenient.
2. Add More Routes
Coast RTA only has seven routes in Myrtle Beach. That's such a joke considering that the Myrtle Beach coast is 60 miles long. They have routes in some surrounding areas, but none of those areas have more than two routes. In fact, many of these routes in other towns are express routes—they get you to the town, but not around it.
The seven routes in Myrtle Beach get you to some "main" areas, but you'll likely have to get off and walk long distances to get to where you really want to go. I don't know who thought that seven routes was good enough for all of the city, but they shouldn't be allowed to plan public transportation systems.
The system is incredibly lacking and inefficient. In some cases, like mine, the bus only stops on one side of the highway, so I have to cross dangerous traffic to get to where I'm going. I started ridesharing across the street just so I won't get hit by a car!
I get that it takes money to add routes, but the city has money. The city government just chooses to put that money elsewhere. In my opinion, they don't care much about the locals (because that's who rides the bus). They care about the tourists and put money into tourist-related projects.
For example, there is an entertainment shuttle that runs every 30 minutes around the tourist area, but local routes only run every one to two hours. It's ridiculous.
3. Change Scheduled Times of Routes
The buses are always late. All the routes are like this—all the time. You never know when you'll get to where you're going. In fact, the buses are so unreliable that people have to leave home one to two hours early to make sure they get to work on time.
The buses are late due to traffic. I understand that bus drivers and managers can't control traffic, but if the buses are late everyday (and they are), there is obviously a scheduling problem.
To make matters worse, the buses may leave the transit before your bus gets there. Remember I said that the only way to transfer to another bus was at the transit, and the buses only run every one to two hours? Therefore, if you miss the connecting bus, you may be stuck waiting a couple of hours for the next one.
I don't understand why the powers that be won't redo the schedule. It's obvious that the current one isn't working. If all buses are late everyday, the schedule needs to be revised.
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4. Transit Needs Security
The bus transit can be a dangerous place. There are so many drug addicts, criminals, and homeless people that hang around the transit and they get rowdy sometimes.
The transit is a place where these people can sit in the cool AC and drink cold water from the water fountain. Therefore it attracts all these people who have nowhere to go. There are no security guards or security personnel there. Riders just have to be on the lookout for trouble.
I always carry a pocket knife with me when I ride the bus. One time, some crazy drunk guy was at the transit threatening to kill everyone. At that time, there was only one employee and he was across the street talking to someone, and the drunk guy is threatening to murder all of us.
I was holding my pocket knife, ready to use it if needed. No one stopped him. No one called the police. Thankfully he didn't do anything, but who knows—the next one might.
Another crazy security issue is that the transit closes before the last buses run. That means, in the evenings, you have to stand outside and wait on your bus (we were outside in the situation I described above).
Evenings and nights are when the crazies come out, so you really have to stay alert. Plus, during summer, it's incredibly hot. Just imagine standing outside for an hour when the temperature is 100 degrees!
5. Each Route Needs More Stops
Not only are there not enough routes, but the bus stops are so far apart! I'm talking miles apart in many cases. I have to walk 30 minutes from my apartment to the nearest bus stop because they don't have stops in many neighborhoods. You'd think we live in a rural town rather than a bustling tourist destination.
What sense does it make to have inaccessible bus stops? People shouldn't have to walk for miles to get on the bus. The whole purpose of a public bus is so people don't have to walk far distances. Apparently Myrtle Beach didn't get the memo.
Implementing These Changes
Getting the city to implement these changes to the public bus system is no easy feat. It may even be impossible. Perhaps if citizens start attending the town hall meetings, they could voice their concerns in front of the right people. However, Myrtle Beach has the town hall meetings in the evenings after the buses have stopped running so people have no way to get there.
I am a short-term rider so I hope all the long-term riders band together and work with city officials to make the bus system better.
To Be Fair
I decided that it would only be fair to add five things I like about Coast RTA to give them a little credit. They are:
- They keep the buses in good working condition. The buses are new and they keep them as clean as possible.
- The AC on the bus is amazing and is perfect for the scorching South Carolina heat.
- Most of their buses have USB charging ports so you can charge your devices.
- It's free to ride all of their buses (for now).
- Most drivers are incredibly friendly and helpful.
These five qualities don't balance out the negatives at all, but at least there is some type of silver lining. If Coast RTA would correct the five issues I mentioned above, their system would be a good model for other public bus systems.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.