GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – Greenlink is getting $5.8 million in federal funds to improve infrastructure and pay for some major updates.
Greenlink has been awarded the funds from the RAISE grant program.
The Department of Transportation said the Biden-Harris Administration has awarded more than $2.2 billion from the RAISE grant program to help communities modernize transportation, while making it more affordable, efficient, and equitable.
“Yesterday was a really exciting day for the department–for the whole country,” said Carlos Monje, Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy. “We had the opportunity to announce $2.2 billion dollars for 166 projects in all 50 states, as part of the RAISE grant program.”
“The department allows us to invest in projects from road, to rail, to transit–all over this country, and very proud that Greenville was able to apply and win for one of those grants,” Monje said.
James Keel, Executive Director for Greenville Transit Authority, said Greenville is one of two entities in South Carolina which will benefit from the program.
“We’re really excited about RAISE. We put in two applications, and we’re happy to announce that we were one of two entities in South Carolina that actually ended up with a RAISE grant,” Keel said. “We’ve heard for a long time, ‘we need better bus stops.’ And what that really means for people is–is people think of public transit, and well it’s a bus.”
“But you have to remember, somebody who uses the bus – it’s not just about the bus – their trip actually starts or ends at a bus stop somewhere,” Keel said.
Right now, you might see some bus stop signs on a utility pole, or some bus stops are close to the road.
Riders said that in some cases, there’s no shield from the weather. Adding that they are glad the upgrades are coming.
“That’s good because they need the improvements, better seating–get us out the rain or the heat or the sun rather, and it’ll be a whole lot better than some of these bus stops that don’t have shelters,” said bus user Travis Brock.
“I don’t like standing. I like to be able to sit down when it’s raining or something. So, it’s an excellent idea. I love it,” said JJ, another bus user.
Soon, people will see changes at approximately 336 bus stops in Greenville.
“We’ve got some nice stops right now. New shelters, solar lighting. Hopefully with this grant, we’re looking at putting in about 330 more upgrades to bus stops in our system, now, out of the 420 some odd stops we have,” Keel added. “It’s going to be a significant upgrade to what we have.”
“What that looks like is us going in, putting in concrete, and putting in a bench or a shelter,” Keel said.
“About 10 of the stops are going to be pilot projects,” explained Keel. “It’ll actually have real on-time information. You can actually see a countdown of how many minutes is going to be before the bus actually comes and it will push service notices out.”
White House staff said there’s a reason why they chose Greenville.
“It’s because the project was so compelling in Greenville,” Monje said. “It’s because of the hard work on the people on the ground.”
“So many projects have been on the wish list for so long, and I think that the residents of Greenville should be very proud of Greenlink for this applications,” said Monje.
For those who are at stops at night, people will be able to use solar-powered technology.
“As you know, our city and our county, we’ve got some corridors that are not well lit,” Keel said.
“Well, we have bus service on those corridors and last year January 2021, we extended our bus stop hours,” he said. “So, we were ending service at 7:30, now we’re ending service at 11:30. If you look at those corridors that don’t have a lot of streetlighting, we’re able to go in now and put in some solar lighting.”
“The project will increase transportation equity by expanding options for transit-dependent users and all users of the Greenlink service. The project will improve safety by implementing solar-powered push technologies to enable security lights, during low visible transit hours,” White House staff said in an email.
Residents are happy about what’s to come.
“Very good. I love it. I really do. It’s a very good idea,” JJ said.
Keel said they just found out about this grant award this week. He said they haven’t received any guidelines about drawdowns, however, he said that, usually, money is made available pretty quickly after the award.
Keel said the project will likely be a four to five phase process and it could take a couple of years to roll out.
“Congratulations again to the Greenlink folks,” Monje said. “This was an opportunity that was available because of the work of President Biden, Secretary Buttigieg, of the bi-partisan members of Congress, including by the way–Senator Graham who voted to support this money, in this legislation to get it over the finish line. Really proud. It’s a day to celebrate.”