Light rail running passengers between Summerville and Charleston at all hours may not be in the cards (yet), but Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is pursuing a commuter rail system that would serve the same purpose — but only during the high traffic hours associated with the daily commute.
“Commuter rail is the first step,” Riley says. Some additional tracks will be needed for passing lanes and rail car storage, but most of the infrastructure is already in place for the limited passenger trains to use existing cargo rail lines, either from Summerville or Monks Corner.
It’s an effort in conservation, Riley says. “That means an automobile isn’t on the highway.”
The regions recent success with an express bus system that shuttles downtown workers from large suburban parking lots is proof that a commuter line has potential, Riley says. “That’s gotten people used to this,” he says. “The express bus shows there's public support and enjoyment.”
The next step will be feasibility studies and a concrete investment from potential partners, including the railroad companies and municipalities responsible for development around the tracks.