ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - The City of Rock Hill is launching the first, free public transportation system in York County on Monday, June 10. Thursday morning, city leaders displayed the fleet of 7 electric buses that will be running four routes starting this summer.
Mayor John Gettys says it’s the culmination of four years of work by city council.
“To see all these buses come in, to see the promise that they bring to so many people whether they realize it or not at this point,” Gettys said. “To see the results of good hard work by so many people to get us to this point.”
The transit system is called My Ride Rock Hill. It is free to the public. City Communications Director Katie Quinn tells WBTV it was funded partially by the Federal Transit Administration. Quinn says the FTA grants paid for 85 percent of the startup for the transit system. Quinn says the remaining 15 percent was funded by the city’s general fund and local sponsors.
My Ride Rock Hill will launch the first route on Monday, June 10. Route one is the downtown loop. City leaders say it will run from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays, route one will have extended hours from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. On Sundays, route one will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Routes two, three and four will launch on July 1. Those three routes will run from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.
According to city leaders, route one will make a stop every 30 minutes. Routes two, three and four will stop every hour.
The buses are equipped with free WIFI, outlets, and bike storage. Mayor John Gettys says they will also have children’s books on the buses provided by The Early Learning Partnership of York County.
The My Ride buses were manufactured in Greenville, SC by Proterra. Proterra CEO Ryan Popple says he believes Rock Hill is the first municipality in North America to start a transit system with electric buses.
“These vehicles have no tail pipes so no tail pipe pollution at all to your local community,” Popple said. “They are nice and quiet.”
Popple says transit buses that run off diesel get roughly 4 miles per gallon. He says the electric buses used for My Ride have an energy equivalency of about 20 miles per gallon.
“So if you take this bus, even if you’re the only one on it, you’re getting more energy efficiency than if you were in an SUV,” Popple said.
Ericka Garris is one of the new bus drivers for the City of Rock Hill. She says she used to drive for CMS and CATS buses in Charlotte. After attending a job fair in Rock Hill to spread information about My Ride Rock Hill, she realized the impact the transit system will have on the community.
“One young man said there is no excuse. There is no excuse for his friends to not have a job. Because you can go get it and we can take you to it,” Ericka Garris said. “One young man said there is no excuse. There is no excuse for his friends to not have a job. Because you can go get it and we can take you to it.”
Ann Williamson is a native of Rock Hill and served one term on city council. She says the City of Rock Hill had a transit system in the 1960s that wasn’t very successful. She says she never thought she would see one again in Rock Hill.
“I plan to use it. I have a car but when I go out to the Galleria, car is going to stay parked,” Williamson said. “I will be using the bus so I can just back and enjoy My Ride.”
The city plans to have a transit hub near Laurel and White Streets. There riders can connect to all four routes. There will also be two bus shelters provided there.
The city says a My Ride app will launch eventually. The app is expected to provide real-time updates of each buses location.
For more information on My Ride Rock Hill, click here.