[image-1] The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority announced that a park-and-ride expected to alleviate parking woes for some of the city’s more than 7,000 hospitality employees will begin operating on April 15.

The lot, located at 999 Morrison Drive, will allow hospitality workers to pay a daily fee of $5 for a dashboard pass to one of close to 170 available parking spaces. From there, shuttles will operate every 15 minutes between 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. to eight designated stops throughout the peninsula.

Parking will be available on a first come, first serve basis. Bike racks, as well as bikes from Holy Spokes bike share program, will be available on the lot. [embed-1] The lot will open a month after more than a hundred workers from downtown bars, restaurants, and hotels held signs reading “Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You” and “Parking Increase = Price Gouging” outside of City Hall.

[image-3]Workers were protesting the city’s decision to double the price of metered curbside parking and increase enforcement times by four hours as part of the city’s budget approval process in December.

“The HOP park-and-ride service is an important way we are addressing an obvious need of workers in downtown Charleston,” Seekings said in a statement. “This lot and shuttle, essentially a pilot program that has been developed from scratch, is the first step in a regional strategy to tackle a number of pressing transportation issues, namely parking and congestion.”

The project is a collaboration between the transportation authority, the city, Charleston County, the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments.

The City of Charleston says that metered parking prices will not go up to $2 per hour until the park-and-ride is operational.

Anyone is welcome to use the service, though it’s aimed at the downtown employees who often struggle with long-term parking options during the workday.

Currently, peninsula workers could either park in metered spaces for $1 per hour for a maximum of 2 hours per space, or take advantage of discounted rates in city garages that range from $7 to $5, but restart at midnight at $2 per hour.

The park-and-ride is CARTA’s latest attempt to encourage the Holy City to rethink its commutes. Last month, the transportation authority launched Ride Low Go, a website that allows users to match with locals with similar commute routes to plan carpools, as well as map out bike and pedestrian paths.   [pdf-1]