FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — The Pee Dee Regional Transport Authority is experiencing record growth, and its executive director expects the growth to continue.

Don Strickland, the executive director, said the growth can be attributed to an increase in local partnerships and stakeholders. The number of people riding buses is also increasing.

Strickland is expecting nine new cutaway buses by the end of the month. All buses have destination signs, bike racks, and eight to 10 security cameras. Strickland said 44% to 48% of all riders are headed to work.

He said there are plans in the works to create partnerships with various workplaces in the Pee Dee to make sure people can get to work.

“We’re doing a lot of new service with Harbor Freight Tools,” he said. “We’re getting ready to start a new program with Ruiz Foods here locally.”

There are currently 25 fixed routes across 3,500 miles and six counties in the Pee Dee region. Strickland said the number is expected to grow to 30 within the next six months.

“Many of our rural areas, we’re getting back into it the past few years,” he said. “We still have a lot of growth there. We’re working with local businesses and economic development and just places that are really reaching out saying they need new reliable public bus service.”

Starting April 10, a new route will be added at MUSC Black River Medical Center in Lake City. Other routes are in the works for Honda and Hope Health in Timmonsville.

Those who use the system said it’s helpful.

“It’s cheaper than a cab, it goes pretty much about anywhere you need to go,” said Jamecia Williams, a PDRTA rider. “It saves a whole lot. I have been riding for years and years. Whatever I have to do as far as business-wise or anything, I take the bus.”

PDRTA is looking to hire an additional 10 drivers.

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Taylor Ford is a digital journalist for News13. She joined the News13 team in January 2023. Taylor is a Florence native and covers the Pee Dee out of News13’s Florence Bureau. Read more of Taylor’s work here.