As Greenville faces the demands of increased growth, limited transportation assets and connectivity challenges require new ideas and resources to ensure that all people are able to move around the County to achieve their highest potential. Thanks to the leadership of the Piedmont Health Foundation, a study of public transit and health and human services transportation was conducted in 2015 to better understand transit mobility in the community and to identify ways to increase residents’ ability to travel in Greenville County. The results of that research have led to increased momentum among numerous public, private and social stakeholders to advocate for major changes to our transportation system. Additional research through Greenlink’s Comprehensive Operational Analysis and the Transit Development Plan led to Greenlink making route changes to serve as many riders as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. Other recent changes to increase ridership include the addition of an Intelligent Transit System, Track Grenlink, that allows riders to track buses in real time and an electronic payment system that does not require for payment.
The issue of transportation has become a concern for employers and employees alike and is particularly exacerbated in the downtown area where commercial growth continues but automobile parking is limited. The Downtown Transportation Coalition partnered with the Workforce Data Collaborative to gather data on over 1200 downtown employees and employers to inform potential park and ride solutions. The results of that survey are available here.
In addition to our interest in public transportation, we are also involved in the broader discussions around connectivity and mobility in our area. Much of this work is being led by Ten at the Top’s Connecting Our Future initiative and the Upstate Mobility Alliance, which is an effort to create a regional vision for transportation, mobility and connectivity in the ten county Upstate. The Upstate Mobility Alliance is bringing together those in the public, private and social sectors to participate in a collaborative process that aligns the region’s urgent mobility needs with broader long-term regional initiatives like economic vitality, environmental sustainability, social equity, health and safety, and quality of life. In support of Connecting Our Future, Ten at the Top put together a Regional Fact Book for the Upstate that outlines the conditions and trends our region is facing.
Connecting Our Future is an offshoot of the Shaping Our Future report that was released in 2017 through the partnership of Upstate Forever, Ten at the Top, and the Riley Institute at Furman University. This report was built recognizing that the Upstate region is growing. By 2040, it is projected that our region’s population will reach nearly 1,750,000, which is a 64% increase since 1990. Through alternative growth scenario analyses, Shaping Our Future presented alternative regional visions for growth based on their associated fiscal, environmental and quality of life trade-offs.
Hollingsworth Funds’ Involvement
Hollingsworth Funds recognizes that lack of access to efficient and effective transportation is one of the major cross-sector barriers influencing economic mobility. These transportation and connectivity initiatives are yet another example of multiple stakeholders looking to come together around a common purpose. We were an early stage investor in the research and planning of the transit mobility study. We have provided match funding for Greenlink’s successful application to the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program to secure new Proterra buses as well as investing in other selected implementation strategies. Hollingworth Funds provided financial support for a planning grant to have Kimley-Horn, one of the nation’s premier planning and design engineering consultants, facilitate the Connecting Our Future work as well as provided financial support for the initial Shaping Our Future report. In addition to our financial commitments, our board and staff continues to utilize its social, moral, intellectual and reputational capital by serving on leadership committees, advocating for policy change across a number of transportation-related issues, and encouraging a collective approach between private and public sector players.