[IMAGE]Clemson-Greenlink-shuttle-2.jpeg[/IMAGE] Like many international students living along Woodruff Road, automotive engineering graduate student Aaquib Asad had difficulty getting to his classes at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR).
With no public transportation to and from campus, Asad relied on a university shuttle that picked him up in the morning and returned to his Candleton Apartments home in the evening.
“I had to go in the morning and wait until the end of the day,” Asad said. “I didn’t have an option.”
That all changed with a new Greenlink shuttle service that runs every 30 minutes along a loop that connects the CU-ICAR campus, Candleton Apartments and St. Francis Eastside.
“Now there’s a bus stop outside my apartment building,” Asad said.
Officials and leaders from the city of Greenville, Greenlink and Greenville Transit Authority, Clemson University and Bon Secours St. Francis Health System rolled out the new Greenlink shuttle service Monday.
The shuttle, which began operation Jan. 31, marks the first public transportation service to the Millennium Boulevard area, providing a valuable and much-needed option for students, faculty, staff and St. Francis patients.
The service will help attract new businesses, students and employees to the CU-ICAR campus and St. Francis and retain students and employees who rely on public transportation.
Carl Jackson, public transportation director for the city of Greenville, said there was a clear need for residents of the Woodruff Road area to travel to St. Francis Eastside Hospital and the CU-ICAR campus and to connect with the Greenlink bus system that serves the greater Greenville area. The new shuttle will prove invaluable, he said.
“Services like these provide an important link for people who need — or choose to use — public transportation,” Jackson said. “The shuttle will help this business district grow by helping local residents get to their jobs, classrooms and homes.”
The service, which is available to the general public, is funded by a partnership between CU-ICAR, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System and a FTA Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) grant awarded to Greenville Transit Authority.
The 12.5-mile loop runs from the St. Francis Eastside Hospital on Patewood Drive, along Woodruff Road to Candleton Apartments, onto Verdae Boulevard and passes the Route 8 shelter with connections to downtown Greenville. The loop then heads to Laurens Road and the St. Francis Millennium campus at Innovation Drive, before stopping at CU-ICAR off Millennium Boulevard and returning to St. Francis Eastside.
The shuttle runs every 30 minutes from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The shuttle does not operate on Sunday and on public holidays.
Imtiaz Haque, executive director of the Carroll A. Campbell Jr. Graduate Engineering Center at CU-ICAR, said bringing public transportation to the campus provides accessible transportation to Clemson students who live in Greenville, particularly the residents of Candleton Apartments.
“This shuttle service was a year-long undertaking that would not have been possible without the collaboration of St. Francis, Greenlink and the Greenville Transit Authority,” Haque said.
“Collaboration is at the heart of CU-ICAR, so the ease with which this partnership formed comes as no surprise,” he said. “I would like to thank Lee Davis, the graduate student coordinator at CU-ICAR, and everyone connected with the project who helped make this important service a reality.”
Greenlink staff was approached by CU-ICAR with a need for transit service for students and visiting faculty at the campus.
Greenville Transit Authority awarded CU-ICAR and St. Francis a JARC grant that reimbursed 50 percent of their operational costs and 80 percent of the capital purchase.
This allowed the transit authority to purchase a shuttle on behalf of CU-ICAR and St. Francis for use along the published route. The remaining 20 percent of the capital purchase and 50 percent of the operational cost is split 50-50 by CU-ICAR and St. Francis.
“This collaboration is a great story to showcase the creativity of public-private partnerships and how they can originate innovative solutions that serve their own constituencies and do so in a way that leads in environmentally sustainable practices,” said Mark Nantz, CEO of Bon Secours St. Francis.
This partnership is the first public-private partnership of its kind in the history of the Greenville Transit Authority and Greenlink and was made possible by three entities with an invested interest in the community, Jackson said.
“The partnership demonstrates how public funding and private funding can be leveraged to maximize the impact of each, and provide a low-cost service to those who most need it,” Jackson said.