The Comet (transit)
|Headquarters||3613 Lucius Road|
|Locale||Columbia, South Carolina|
|Service area||Richland and Lexington Counties, South Carolina|
|Service type||bus service|
|Fuel type||Diesel and Compressed Natural Gas|
The Comet, officially the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (CMRTA), is the operator of mass transportation in Richland and Lexington counties in the Columbia metropolitan area of South Carolina. Eighteen standard, all-day routes serve metropolitan Columbia, while eight peak hour routes and one weekend special are also operated by the transit agency.
Until 2002, the public transit system in Columbia was operated by the South Carolina Electric & Gas Company (SCE&G), a successor of a former streetcar system. The city of Columbia signed a deal with SCE&G in December 2001 to take over the transit system effective the following year, in exchange for a 30-year utilities franchise. The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (CMRTA) was established in 2002 and contracted Connex to operate its bus routes beginning in October 2002.
For the first 10 years of operation, the CMRTA relied heavily on transitional funds from SCE&G to fund service. After a $2.5 million funding shortfall and bus service cuts in 2010, the CMRTA Board placed a sales tax on the November ballot to fund transit; the tax measure failed by 2,200 votes. On November 6, 2012, voters in Lexington and Richland counties approved a one-cent sales tax to fund public transit service. A government activist filed a lawsuit in late 2012, arguing that the election had been subject to widespread disenfranchisement. The South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the election and tax in March 2013, dismissing the case and allowing planning on service restoration to continue.
- Route 101 – North Main
- Route 201 – Rosewood
- Route 301 – Farrow Road
- Route 401 – Devine
- Route 601 – Shop Road
- Route 5 – Fort Jackson Special
- Route 6 – Eau Claire
- Route 11 – Fairfield Road
- Route 12 – Edgewood
- Route 13 – Northeast Richland Flex
- Route 15 – Forest Drive / Decker
- Route 16 – Dentsville
- Route 17 – Harrison Road
- Route 22 – Intown
- Route 26 – West Columbia
- Route 28 – Midlands Tech Airport Campus
- Route 31 – Denny Heights
- Route 32 – North Main/Hardscrabble
- Route 34 – Saint Andrews
- Route 34B – Bush River Road/Saint Andrews
- Route 42 – Millwood Avenue
- Route 45 – Leesburg – Hazelwood
- Route 46 – Lower Richland Blvd
- Route 47 – Lower Richland
- Route 55X – Sandhills
- Route 62 – ReFlex
- Route 63 – Garnet
- Route 88 – Crosstown
- Scheib, Samuel (April 15, 2014). "How to Launch a Comet". Mass Transit Magazine. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- "Columbia City Council Authorizes City Manager And Mayor to Approve SCE&G Franchise and Transit Deal" (Press release). SCANA. December 21, 2001. Retrieved November 21, 2016 – via PR Newswire.
- "S.C. bus operation changes hands". Metro Magazine. January 1, 2003. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- Request for Proposal: Contracted Operation and Maintenance of Fixed Route and Paratransit Services (PDF) (Report). Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority. August 18, 2014. pp. 10–15. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- Turnage, Jeremy (March 22, 2013). "State Supreme Court rejects Michael Letts' penny tax challenge". WIS TV. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- Kuenzie, Jack (April 25, 2013). "CMRTA becomes The Comet". WIS TV. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- "The COMET Schedules". Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
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