ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (Friday, September 15, 2017) — The WorkLink Workforce Development Board, in collaboration with Electric City Transit and Anderson County, has been awarded grant funds to pilot a new transit route serving the Belton-Honea Path area and extend an existing transit route on Masters Boulevard in Anderson County. The new routes will be in service starting Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 and will run twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon starting in Anderson at 6:20am and 8:20am and again at 2:20pm and 4:20pm.
The $100,000 grant, awarded by the State Workforce Development Board – Department of Employment and Workforce, will help remove transportation barriers faced by jobseekers and those seeking training in Anderson County. While the exact number of riders for the new route can be hard to predict, approximately 30,000 people live within one mile of the new Purple and expanded Gold Routes, making those involved with the grant enthusiastic about the 12 to 18-month project’s success.
“It has been a long term goal of the Anderson County Council to provide public transportation to the Belton-Honea Path area,” said Anderson County Administrator, W.R. “Rusty” Burns. “We are very excited and appreciative of the grant opportunity provided through Worklink to accomplish this goal.”
Trent Acker, Executive Director of the WorkLink WDB agreed “Grants like this allow the WorkLink WDB to pilot new projects that are important to jobseekers and employers in our community and we are grateful to the State Workforce Development Board for the funding.”
Electric City Transit will provide bus service via the new Purple Route to Belton and Honea Path, and through an extension of the Gold Route, provide bus service to additional employers in the Masters Boulevard area.
New Belton-Honea Path Route
The new Purple Route will begin in downtown Anderson, following Hwy 178 to Hwy 252 into Honea Path, and then picking up Hwy 178 in Honea Path continuing through Belton back to Anderson. As a result of the brand new bus line, a number of employers will have direct access to employees with a reliable mode of transportation, and employees will have access to employers with higher wages, thereby changing the quality of life for the better for our citizens in Anderson County.
Masters Boulevard Extension
The Gold Route, currently serving the Homeland Park area of Anderson, will be extended in a loop down Masters Boulevard to Hwy US-29 to provide access to five medium and large employers. The companies directly impacted will be Electrolux, First Quality Tissue, Unaflex, Kravet Fabrics and Michelin North America.
Employers in the area are also excited about how the new transportation options will affect their ability to attract new employees and retain existing staff.
Kevin T. Craft, President of IMS of Belton, Inc. and a member of the Anderson County School Board of Trustees for District 2 (BHP), stated, “IMS of Belton is excited for the opportunity this brings to our existing and potential workforce. Based on our initial assessments, this route could impact up to 10% of our existing workforce. We see this expansion of the current Anderson route into the Belton area as a way to increase our pool of potential labor.”
G. Robert Bowers, Nutritional Services Director for Patrick B. Harris Psychiatric Hospital, commented, "I know we have missed out on potential workers due to lack of transportation over the last 10 - 20 years. This new bus route may not only bring us new employee prospects, it may offer existing employees a more affordable way to work. This could be huge."
"The new purple route will provide individuals in Anderson area access to jobs and freedom from every walk of life. This will expand our ability to recruit and maintain good people at The Timken Company," said Mary Hallman, Plant Manager of Timken in Honea Path.
In addition to the employment opportunities these new transportation options offer, riders will also be able to access training and educational opportunities that may have been limited in the past.
Dan Cooper, Director of Government Relations and Economic Development, Tri County Technical College, remarked, "The addition of this bus route will provide an opportunity for more students to get to our campuses for the education and technical training they need. In turn, they will help to meet the demand for a highly skilled workforce in our service area."
“The unemployment rate in the communities of Belton and Honea Path is slightly higher than the state average. If the Purple Line Bus Transit system allows more of our folks to find gainful employment in other parts of Anderson County, then it is a win - win for all of us,” added Dr. Richard Rosenberger, Superintendent of Anderson School District 2.
A kickoff event celebrating the new Purple Route and Gold Route extension will be held at 9:30am on Monday September 18, 2017 at the Anderson County Courthouse Plaza in Anderson, SC.
For more information about the routes and the service times to specific locations, visit cityofandersonsc.com or call 864.231.7625.
The WorkLink Workforce Development Board (WDB) is an organization governed by a volunteer board of directors who are responsible for developing policy and overseeing local workforce development initiatives in partnership with local service providers. Empowered by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, WorkLink develops the link between employers and the workforce in Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties.