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Businesses donate $46,000 to keep bus route free

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Several Charleston companies donated more than $46,000 to keep a bus route in downtown Charleston free for six more months so residents can better access a local grocery store, according to a news release.

The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority decided to make King Street Route 20 (.pdf) free after the Bi-Lo at 445 Meeting St. closed its doors in September.

The Bi-Lo on Meeting Street closed in September. The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority has provided a free bus service to a Food Lion store on Upper King Street since October. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

To donate

Checks can be made out to Meet the Needs Charleston, a nonprofit that will transfer the money to CARTA.

275 Beech Hill Lane
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464.

The closure left Eastside residents without a neighborhood grocery store. The closest grocery stores are more than a mile away, making it difficult for many senior citizens and those without cars to buy food.

CARTA’s Route 20 runs along King and Meeting streets between Heriot and Broad streets, including stops on Columbus Street near the former Bi-Lo site and at the Food Lion and CVS shopping center at 1015 King St., on the north side of the Crosstown Expressway.

CARTA planned to run the route for free through this month, but the transit agency needed additional funding to keep the service going.

Mickey Bakst of Feed the Need and Belmond Charleston Place; Hilton and Catherine Smith of East Bay Co.; Neil Robinson of Sean Litton of The Peninsula Co.; Tony McAlister of McAlister Development Co. donated funds for the route, as did Blackbaud and others, the release said.

The donors said they would like to see other Charleston business leaders fund the route for the rest of 2017.

“When you look at how Charleston is changing, how its longtime residents are being impacted, I think it is incumbent upon leaders in the business community to step in and help,” Bakst said in the release. “Food is important to our city’s identity and it’s a core essential for everyone. We have to make sure that all residents have access to groceries. It’s the right thing to do.”

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