There are many options for getting around and to and from St Elmo without driving your car. You can walk, ride your own bike or a shared bike, or take the bus!
St Elmo used to have a traditional bus line. However, since mid 2021, CARTA has extended the very popular downtown Electric Shuttle service to St Elmo. It’s fun and it’s free! That’s right, whereas the “regular” buses cost $1.50 to ride, the electric shuttle is something you just hop on and hop off for no charge. It runs seven days a week, into the early evening hours.
The #15 St Elmo shuttle runs between 56th Street in St Elmo and the Choo-choo parking garage on a schedule that is about 50 minutes round trip. It goes down St Elmo Ave, continues on Tennessee Ave to Broad Street, then takes Main Street to Market Street and then to the Choo-choo. The Choo-choo is the hub for all of the electric shuttles, so from there you can take another shuttle to go further downtown, or even to Northshore. The shuttle bus is not fast, but hey, it has free wi-fi, and did I mention that it is free to ride? Click here for more information from CARTA, including the schedule and system maps. Pro tip: since the shuttle bus is free, it is actually useful to ride even within the neighborhood!
The Alton Park bus (schedule #1) is a traditional bus line that also comes into St Elmo. In fact, it makes a stop in the Food City complex by the laundromat. It is a popular line and runs frequently. It costs $1.50, but various types of passes are available for regular riders.
For real-time information on CARTA bus locations, use their Bus Tracker or call CARTA's information line, Monday-Saturday, 6 am - 8 pm at 423-629-1473.
See route #15 schedule information here.
See route #1 schedule information here.
For more information on fares (for the regular buses), including discount fares for students, senior citizens, and disabled persons, visit the fares page.
Bikes on buses: the full size buses have bike racks on the front, so If your destination is a bit farther from your bus route, take your bike on the bus! Find instructions for using the racks here, but your bus driver will also be able to show you how to load your bicycle. Unfortunately, the electric shuttles do not accommodate bikes.
There has long been a contingent of St Elmo bike riders who would bike downtown for work or errands. But admittedly, for many people, the idea of riding on Broad Street or Alton Park Blvd / Market street was pretty daunting. Thankfully, since the Riverwalk was extended to the Wheland Trailhead on St Elmo Avenue in 2016, St Elmo has been much more accessible for cyclists. And now with the full completion in 2022, it is very safe and easy to get between St Elmo and the riverfront and beyond.
Of course, you don’t always want to get all the way to the riverfront. For the south side of downtown, you can still use the Riverwalk, and then Chestnut Street is a pretty good route to get the rest of the way to downtown or the Main Street area.
Within St Elmo, we have the Virginia Avenue Greenway that essentially extends the Riverwalk from the Incline to 55th Street. This stretch is very popular with cyclists, pedestrians, dogs, kids - we all like it! Over the past few years since these facilities opened, St Elmo has become a destination for recreational riders coming from outside the neighborhood.
You don’t have a bike, you say? Well, you still have options if you want to try out the Riverwalk and Greenway! We have a Bike Chattanooga bike share station right in front of the Incline. You can rent a bike for up to an hour at a time. You can bring it back to the same place, or you can leave it at another station. Because the Incline station is a powered charging station, it is one of the ones that regularly stocks the available power-assisted E-bikes. They are really fun! You can get a daily pass for $8 for unlimited rides during a 24 hour period. But if you find it useful, an annual pass is only $50 - unlimited rides for a year!
Another great option for recreational cycling is the Guild Trail. This former narrow-gauge rail bed is now a gravel service road that is the one of the backbones of the trail systems on Lookout Mountain. The trail part starts at the intersection of the paved Guild Trail road and Ochs Highway. The first section crosses a couple of wooden bridges before passing through the Ruby Falls parking lot. After crossing Scenic Highway into the upper parking lot, the trail continues to Cravens Terrace past Cravens House, and then up to the end at Scenic Highway again, about half a mile before the “hairpin” intersection with East Brow Road. Again, this is a gravel trail, and the gravel is finer or coarser in various locations. It is easy to traverse on a mountain bike. It is not so easy on a skinny-tire racing bike, but on a gravel bike or most recreational bikes with reasonably wide tires, it is very doable.
Tennessee Highway Safety Office: Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety
Bike Walk Chattanooga: Source for local bicycling news and events
Outdoor Chattanooga: Provides monthly bicycle safety seminars and bicycle maintenance workshops, along with leisurely group rides (bicycles provided)
Chattanooga Bicycle Club: Organizes group rides (road and mountain) and supports advocacy efforts
Bike Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System: Bike share system serving Downtown/Southside/Northshore
Bike Walk Tennessee: Bicycle and pedestrian state advocacy organization