[image-1]Anyone who’s spent a few minutes downtown has probably seen one of the cute downtown trolley shuttles that scoot up and down the peninsula. Or, more accurately, they’ve probably heard the hulking nostalgiamobiles from a block away.

In any case, the 17-year old trolleys will soon be gone.

Starting today, CARTA’s downtown DASH routes will be navigated by brand new 50-passenger buses in the first of a series of enhancements slated for the transit agency in the coming years. The new buses are quieter and more fuel-efficient than the familiar trolleys, which are no longer being manufactured and made for a maintenance headache for CARTA staff. Big windows mean a more enjoyable ride on the new 30-foot buses and two doors along with a lower height makes for easier boarding and better wheelchair accessibility.
[image-2]In celebrating the new additions this morning, Mayor John Tecklenburg said the new buses “portend the future of a new day for transit in Charleston.” The Charleston County half-cent sales tax passed last month will pump $600 million into CARTA initiatives, including a new bus rapid transit system along the Rivers Avenue corridor from Summerville into downtown. From there, commuters will transfer to the new DASH buses to finish their trip down the peninsula. The BRT system is a few years off, but the new DASH buses are one of its first components.

Just like the old trolleys, all three downtown shuttle routes are free. With more tourists visiting the Charleston area without cars (1 million in the last year, says the CVB), efficient transit options are not only necessary for residents but visitors as well.

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