The City of Rock Hill has received a Municipal Achievement Award for its My Ride Rock Hill transit system. 
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The City of Rock Hill has received a Municipal Achievement Award for its My Ride Rock Hill transit system. The city won in the public service category. Thirty cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives for consideration in the annual awards.

In some Rock Hill neighborhoods, many households have no cars and require other means of transportation to access healthcare, schools and other essential businesses such as grocery stores. A 2016 study showed that 81% of residents supported a citywide fixed-route bus system. City staff developed a practical financial model for a system, and city council conducted public input meetings to plan it.

The City of Rock Hill launched My Ride Rock Hill, a city-operated, fare-free, all-electric and zero-emission transit system. It links the city’s shopping, sports tourism, education and medical districts for residents, college students and visitors. Using a fleet of seven battery-powered buses made in South Carolina, it operates daily on four routes. The buses also have free Wi-Fi and charging ports, and a free mobile app helps riders find buses and plan rides. 

The city’s project partners include the local university, hospital and credit union. Funding came from Federal Transit Administration formula grants, covering 80% of capital costs and 50% of operating costs. Partners pledged a total of $400,000 every year for five years. The city contributes about $350,000 every year through tax base growth. Electric buses have the added benefit of being less expensive to operate and maintain over the vehicle lifetime as well as the environmental benefit. 

The ridership goal of 4,100 weekly passenger trips by the end of the first year was exceeded in eight weeks. The rate of on-time arrivals reached 89.7%. A homeless shelter indicated that some of its clients found jobs because of reliable transit.

The city has received a $2.2 million federal grant to purchase three more buses for 2021 delivery. Officials are also exploring expanding routes into neighboring cities. 

“Rock Hill used partnerships and resources to create a top-notch public transportation system that helps all of its residents and visitors,” said Todd Glover, executive director for the Municipal Association.

These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. Information and a video about the project are available on the Association’s website (keyword: Achievement Awards).  

The Municipal Association of SC initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.