South Carolina’s Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET) released its Vision:2020/COMPASS progress report, which provides the agency’s board of directors, the Central Midlands community, and other key stakeholders with an update on the agency’s advancements.
As this year marks the final year of The COMET’s guiding framework for operations, Vision: 2020, and the culmination of the agency’s five-year strategic plan, The COMPASS, results from both were combined into a single document to highlight the agency’s progress in four key areas: fiscal responsibility and operational accountability, ridership, safety and security, and creative partnerships.
“I am proud to say that many of the actionable items in both these documents have been achieved. Continuously fulfilling our commitment to the community and demonstrating fiscal responsibility is our highest goal,” said John Andoh, executive director/CEO of The COMET. “I would like to especially commend The COMET Board and administrative staff for their interest and support of the delivery of the tasks in a responsible and progressive manner.”
Several highlights of the report included:
- Successful completion of two federal triennial reviews, eight annual reviews by the South Carolina Department of Transportation, and eight annual reviews by an independent auditor.
- Expanded service throughout Lexington and Richland Counties thereby increasing ridership to more than 2.7 million annual trips.
- Continuous essential travel service throughout Hurricane Sandy in 2015 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Fleet upgrades using environmentally responsible and technologically progressive buses, cutaways, and trolleys.
- Added local policing to The COMET buses and COMET Central to improve safety and security.
- New partnerships with Uber and Lyft to connect low-income residents in food desert areas and provide cost-effective transit for riders during after-hours.
- Partnership with the City of Columbia and Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina allowing The COMET users free access to bicycles through the Blue Bike program.
According to Andoh, next steps include a strategic review and planning process over the course of 2021 to develop Vision: 2030 and The COMPASS through 2025. Key efforts would also involve determining a path for funding The COMET beyond 2029 and continuing to deliver quality transit service with mobility options to Richland and Lexington Counties.