The Spoleto Season is a great opportunity for East Cooper Residents and Visitors to our area to enjoy the massive art festivals downtown, but a bad time to find a parking space. Fortunately, CARTA public transit makes “Spoleto Sans Auto” possible, allowing you to park Pleasantly in Mount Pleasant and ride downtown on two CARTA bus lines. 15 hotels are located within walking distance to the #40 bus line which runs directly to the Charleston Visitor’s center and free DASH bus service to most Spoleto venues. This year, for the first time, you can plan your entire trip, automatically, online using Google transit. Save money, avoid road rage, skip congestion and never see the inside of a dank parking garage while enjoying art, opera, music, theater, dance and creativity of all kinds.
All these ideas function for local festival goers and tourists in other parts of the region. You can adjust these Google Transit trips to work for the area you live or are staying in as well.
New in 2013 Bus Tracker now enhances this by allowing you to know when your bus is actually going to arrive, based on GPS data transmitted from the buses.
Park Pleasantly, For Free
Two CARTA services reach downtown. The #40 Mount Pleasant Bus runs seven days a week making 12 stops between Wando High School and the Charleston Visitor’s Center. The Express Bus runs Monday through Friday making pickups at Park and Ride lots at Super Walmart on North 17 and K mart on Bowman Road before running downtown to the Visitor’s Center, College of Charleston and MUSC. The new 41 Coleman Blvd. Bus serves the South side of Mount Pleasant from Ben Sawyer Blvd., down Colemen Blvd and into the City. The 41 provides service to all the hotels in the area without requiring riders to cross a major highway on foot.
The Basic Fare for the #40 & #41 routes is #1.75. Transfers are thirty cents. The Express charges a premium fare, however they’re only a $1 up charge with a transfer. Children under 6 ride for free. See the CARTA Fare Schedule for discounts for Senior Citizens, Low Income and Disabled Riders. Various CARTA discount unlimited ride Bus Passes can be purchased at the Visitor’s Center Downtown, Piggly Wiggly at the Sea Island Shopping Center, Kmart and the Mount Pleasant Visitor’s Center at Waterfront Memorial Park. The $12 three day pass and $50 Thirty-one day pass are both excellent values.
You can click the reverse link on the right side of start and stop of your trip to check on the ride home, as well as adjust time and date. Watch a short video on Google Transit on our routes page.
- Sea Island Shopping Center to Downtown Charleston. Nice shelter, convenient drop off. The new 41 route now goes directly to the Visitor’s Center in Downtown Charleston reaching the end of the line 200 feet from the main DASH hub.
- Moultrie Shopping Plaza/ Moultrie Middle School Lots of parking, Direct trip to Downtown Charleston this year.
- Super Walmart on North 17 to Downtown Charleston This trip is for boarding the bus on the highway on the opposite side from Walmart. You can board there and ride around the end of the line at Wando High School and then into Charleston to avoid walking across the highway to the inbound stop indicated here, but you will need to plan to board earlier, at the time listed on the schedule for the Eastbound trip arriving to and departing from this location. Your return trip will bring you directly back to in front of the Walmart.
- Town Centre (Market Center Drive) to Downtown Charleston. The bus stop going into Charleston stops diagonally opposite across the intersection from Verizon.
- Wando Crossing Shopping Center to Downtown Charleston. This trip begins from the stop across from Wando Crossing on the Highway. An improved stop with a shelter is planned for this location in the future.
- Shelmore BI-LO near I’On to Downtown Charleston. Great stop with parking and shade for the inbound trip.
- Whole Foods / Harris Teeter / Houston Northcutt to Downtown Charleston. Wait in the shade at Starbucks and watch for your bus on bus tracker. Lots of parking.
At the Visitor’s Center, riders will find an information booth where tickets for Piccilo Spoleto Events can be purchased and convenient bathrooms. You can also pick up a map for the Free DASH bus service which reaches festival locations throughout the city.
Dash Around Downtown Free
The Free DASH buses, all of which stop at the South end of the Visitor’s Center, run within a block or so of the Dock Street Theater, Gaillard Auditorium, Sottile Theater, Memminger Auditorium. See a map of the DASH system. There is no need to hunt for scarce and expensive parking garage spaces, or struggle with traffic downtown. Just step off the air conditioned DASH and make a short walk to your destination. You can use Google Transit to plan your entire trip all the way to your final destination online, then print out a copy or email to friends. You can also access Google Transit Trip planning on your Iphone, Ipad or Android device using the standard mapping application. Here is a trip from Wando High School to the Dock Street Theater. (This trip may sometimes include transfer to a non DASH downtown bus for a faster trip with a transfer which costs 30 cents) You can also take the DASH for free, but it takes slightly longer. Google is obsessive about speed.
Three DASH routes cover downtown. All are free. By using DASH, you never have to backtrack to your car or fight to find a parking garage with empty spaces.
After your performances, you can enjoy sidewalk dining while you watch Valet Parking services charge people to park their cars blocks away beside lots which display “Full” signs to disappointed drivers. Afterwards, CARTA’s buses stopping at the Vistor’s Center will return you to your automobile parked in Mount Pleasant. The last bus back to Mount Pleasant leaves the Mary Street Transit Center at 7:38 pm most days. Sunday service has been increased to once an hour on the 40 since last year. The #41 doesn’t run on Sunday.
Tips for Tourism Visitors
Visitors can try Spoleto Sans Auto as well since the #40 bus stops near Hotels around the IOP Connector & Hungryneck Blvd. and both the #40 & #41 run through the large hotel Cluster at the East end of the Ravenel Bridge. You can enjoy Charleston more without ever taking your car downtown.
Ride the #40 from Town Center Hotels to Downtown Charleston. Note that there is a stop on Hungryneck Blvd., South of the BI-LO with a wooden bench (image at right) There are three hotels here, including the Residence Inn Charleston Mt. Pleasant,
Ride the #40 or #41 from Ravenel Bridge Gateway Hotels to Downtown Charleston. A great opportunity and value. Short 24 minute trip downtown from hotel charges which are half of what they are downtown. Leave your car parked at your hotel in Mt. Pleasant. This plan is for the Red Roof Inn, but over a dozen hotels are located in this area with rates often $100 a night below downtown. Enter your hotel’s address to plan your trip. Also walking distance to Waterfront Memorial Park and Pier; the Ravenel Bridge Pedestrian and Bike Path “Wonders Way,” Patriot’s Point, two major shopping centers and several inexpensive restaurants. Another Hotel in this Area is The Best Western Patriot’s Point
Enjoy the arts without paying to park this year of fighting downtown traffic congestion. Try Spoleto Sans Auto.
Riders needing assistance can call CARTA Customer Service at (843) 724-7420 or Hungryneck Straphangers at (843) 870-5299.