Charleston Area

Transportation Operating Procedure (TOP)


To ensure Next Step Program Affiliate's Participants can access employment and social services, Affiliates can use the following transportation operating procedure (TOP) to provide transportation services to Participants who can’t afford to travel without assistance. There are four TOP options:

  • LINK/CARTA Bus Service
  • Church Van/Bus Service
  • Private Vehicle Gasoline Cards
  • Medicaid Transportation Services



Tricounty LINK offers bus service throughout the Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester County area (see  On Johns Island, LINK offers:

These two routes offer approximately 30 bus stops throughout Johns Island that most Johns Island residents can access.  LINK does not serve Wadmalaw Island.  Red Top Area Participants can access either the Blue or Green Line at Stop #14 (Main Road and US 17). When Participants gets on a C204 bus, they must have a $2.25 One-Way Pass. 

  • Affiliates can purchase books of 10 One-Way Passes and give Participants two LINK One-Way Passes, one for each way, to employment and social services on Johns Island.
  • Instructions for purchasing books of 10 LINK One-Way Passes are online under “Purchase Tickets” at .
    • Purchasing the 10-pack online costs $22.50, requires a credit or debit card, and expected delivery time is 3-business days.
    • Affiliates can also mail a check.

If the employment and social services are in West Ashley, North Charleston, or Charleston; then Affiliates should give Participants one LINK One-Way Pass to travel to the Citadel Mall where they can get a CARTA bus to most locations. 

When the Participants get on the LINK bus, they should ask the driver for a free transfer to a CARTA bus. If Participants need to take more than one CARTA bus to the employment and social services agency, Lazarus Mentors should help them obtain a “CARTA ID” that will allow them to only pay CARTA’s low income fare of $1.

  • Obtaining the CARTA ID Is a separate process, as follows:
    • An Affiliate prepares a referral letter for Participants, on Affiliate letterhead, certifying that the Participant lives on a low income. If possible, specify the income in the letter and ask the Participant to hand-carry the letter and one of several other documents that also certify the Participant’s low income, such as proof of receiving food stamps, a Medicaid card, or a recent pay stub.
    • The Participant should hand-carry these items to The SC Works Career Center, 1930 Hanahan Road, North Charleston, SC 29406 (843-574-1810/1800) between 8:30 AM and 5 PM Monday through Friday.
    • Once the SC Works Career Center verifies the Participant’s low income, they will issue him/her the CARTA ID Card.
    • CARTA ID cards must be re-verified every six months using the same process.
  • Affiliates can obtain any number of $1 Tickets, to be used in conjunction with the CARTA ID card, by calling CARTA’s Office at 36 Johns Street, Charleston from 8:30 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday. The telephone number is 843-724-7304.  Call before you come so that the booklet of tickets is waiting for you.

Once Participants complete their visit to the employment and social services, they need to return home via the same bus routes.  When getting on a CART bus, they present their CARTA ID card and pay the $1 fare by presenting a $1 ticket.  When Participants transfer from a CARTA bus to a LINK bus, they must pay a transfer fee of $0.30 using exact change.

  • Affiliates need to provide Participants with the $0.30.

The above process will require Lazarus Mentors to ensure that Participants are completely aware of the exact bus routes that they will need to take to access employment and social services. To accomplish this:

  • On almost every page of the CARTA website, Lazarus Mentors can use the “trip planner” feature to plan Participants’ trips from the Citadel Mall to the specific employment and social service agency to which the Participant needs to go.
  • Lazarus Mentors will also need access to LINK One-Way Passes, CARTA $1 tickets, and $0.30 exact change to give to Participants to implement this transportation procedure using LINK and CARTA buses.


If Participants are seniors and/or disabled, there are other options available at CARTA.

  • The Senior Low Income Fare is $0.85 per ride for people 55+ and low income. The process is the same as for CARTA ID low income fare cards, but drivers may request proof of age such as Medicare card or an ID with a date of birth.
    • There are time limits to using the Senior Low Income Fare card. Travel must be Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 3:30 PM and after 6 PM.  These are non-peak hours.  The fare may be used all day Saturday and Sunday and all day holidays.
  • The Disabled Patron Fixed Route Fare is $0.50 per ride. Disabled Participants can receive a Disabled Fare ID card from The SC Works Career Center, 1930 Hanahan Road, North Charleston, SC 29406 (843-574-1810/1800) between 8:30 AM and 5 PM Monday through Friday.
    • By going to SC Works and presenting them a copy of proof of disability:
      • Social Security Disability Awards letter or a
      • Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Veteran Photo ID Service-Connected Disability Card
    • The Disabled Patron/Tel-A-ride Service is $3.50 per ride and is available to disabled Participants from their home to their destination and return.
      • However, Tel-A-Ride is not available on either Johns or Wadmalaw Islands.
        • Disabled Participants from Johns or Wadmalaw Islands or the Red Top Area would have to use LINK to go to the Citadel Mall to pick up Tel-A Ride.
      • In the event Tel-A-Ride ever becomes available on Johns and Wadmalaw Island, we will describe it here as a specialized curb-to-curb transportation service that is available to persons with disabilities who are unable to use the local public bus service. As a shared-ride service, passengers share the vehicle with others traveling in the same direction at the same time. All Tel-A-ride vehicles are wheelchair lift-equipped and curb-to-curb service connects those who meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) Certification Requirements with the places you need to go. To determine whether a Participant is eligible for this service:
      • The Lazarus Mentor should obtain an application:
      • Pick up an application from: CARTA Administration offices (36 John Street), Tel-A-Ride CARTA operations facility (3664 Leeds Ave.), area hospitals and many social service agencies, or call (843) 724-7420, extension 3.
    • The Lazarus Mentor and/or Participant should fill it out completely and:
      • Mail it to: Tel-A-Ride, ADA Coordinator, 3664 Leeds Avenue, North Charleston, SC 29405; or
      • Fax it to: 843-745-4146; or
      • Scan and email it to:
    • Notice of the Participant’s eligibility will arrive within 21 days.
      • Once approved, the disabled Participant must go to CARTA Administrative Office, CARTA Operations Facility, 3664 Leeds Avenue, North Charleston, SC 29405 to have a photograph taken on either Tuesdays (noon-3:30 PM) or Wednesdays (8 AM – 3:30 PM) and receive the Tel-A-Ride ID.
      • This would be a free Tel-A-Ride trip.
    • Once the disabled Participant has the Tel-A-Ride ID, the Lazarus Mentor and/or the Participant would call 843-747-0007; TDD 843-747-1499 to schedule a trip.
    • To pay for Tel-A-Ride trips, the Participant would
      •  need exact change ($3.50) on for each trip on the vehicle.
      • Tel-A-Ride tickets are available at from:
  • CARTA Administrative Office, CARTA Operations Facility, 3664 Leeds Avenue between 8:30 AM and 5 PM Monday through Friday ; and
  • CARTA’s Office at 36 Johns Street, Charleston from 8:30 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday.
  • Writing to CARTA, 3664 Leeds Avenue, North Charleston, SC 29405, including a check for the number of $3.50 tickets needed and a self-addressed return envelope. CARTA will mail you the tickets.



Next Steps of Johns Island (NSJI) Several churches on Johns and Wadmalaw Islands and the Red Top area have vans or buses.  For example, Bethlehem-St. James United Methodist Church, Bethel AME Church, Light of Christ Church, New Hope Baptist Church, St. John Baptist Red Top Church, and St. Mary’s AME Church each have either a van or a small bus that probably require only a SC driver’s license to operate.  NSJI needs to negotiate the use of one of these vehicles for transporting Participants to employment and social services.  Questions that need asking include:

  • May we use it?
  • Do they need to drive the vehicle or may we drive it?
  • What liability insurance do we need while operating the vehicle?
  • What will they charge us to use their vehicle?



If a Participant has access to a private vehicle but doesn’t have the money to pay for fuel, then NSJI can purchase gasoline cards at local service stations for them to use to travel to employment and social services.



Non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) enables Medicaid beneficiaries to obtain covered medical services from both local providers and from tertiary care centers at some distance from their homes. South Carolina employs the company Logisticare.  Go to to learn more. Lazarus Mentors would work through Our Lady of Mercy’s Benefit Bank coordinator to access NEMT for Participants.