The COMET Receives Funding To Aid Public Transportation amid COVID-19
(April 9, 2020) Columbia, SC – The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has allocated $15.3 million to the Columbia metropolitan region to help the area’s public transportation system, The COMET, respond to COVID-19.
The FTA allocated a total of $25 billion to public transportation systems across the country. The funding was included in the $2.2 trillion federal program known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (The CARES Act). A local match is not required for the funding, which will support capital, operating and other expenses incurred in preventing, preparing for and responding to the new coronavirus.
The money will be used for the continuation of the extensive disinfecting and safety measures that The COMET has already implemented. Additionally, the funding will assist in the procurement of protective gear and additional operations costs.
“We are grateful that public transportation is recognized for providing a critical service to the community in this time of difficulty as well as in times of calm,” said John Andoh, The COMET’s Executive Director/CEO. “Our staff, especially our drivers, are our heroes who go to the front lines every day to ensure that we keep people moving to essential destinations.”
The COMET has taken stringent measures in thoroughly cleaning our buses and facilities by instituting hourly cleaning and daily disinfecting with a bio-clean solution. Other processes implemented include rear door boarding, no standing, one-per-row seating with no more than 20 passengers to a bus and mandatory end-of-line exits (enforcing Rules of the Road stating “Passengers must have a destination when riding The COMET buses”). Scheduled run times have been reduced and services began running fare free since late last month to ease the financial burden of those who may have lost wages due to the pandemic.
“This funding helps us sustain The COMET as a vital resource for transportation in the Midlands and emphasizes our commitment to connecting citizens to the places they need to go safely and reliably,” added Andoh.
Public transit, like The COMET, provides critical mobility needs for individuals who are transit dependent for traveling to get medicine and medical care, providing supportive health care work, and receiving and shopping for food and essential needs. Public transit also serves those with disabilities and those providing essential services, such as, grocery clerks, food service and storeroom workers and others.
In addition to Columbia, Charleston’s CARTA received $15.3 million for its public transportation, Greenville received $9.7 million and the Myrtle Beach area received $4.5 million. The FTA also allocated $26.4 million to South Carolina for use in urbanized areas with between 50,000 and 199,999 people, including Anderson, Florence, Hilton Head Island, Mauldin, Simpsonville, Rock Hill, Spartanburg and Sumter.
About The COMET: The COMET is a service of the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority and provides countywide public transit services on 34 fixed routes, five ReFlex services, vanpool service for commuters, subsidy programs with Uber and Lyft and DART for transportation to grocery stores and at night, ADA complementary paratransit service throughout Richland and eastern Lexington Counties and eight Blue Bike bikeshare stations in Downtown Columbia. The COMET transports approximately 2.8 million passenger trips a year on a fleet of more than 80 buses, vans and trolleys. Transit services are provided under contract with Transdev, Enterprise Holdings, Lyft, Uber and Bewegen. For additional The COMET information, please call (803) 255-7100, TDD/TTY: 711 through the relay service, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.catchthecomet.org.
Catch The COMET…We Will Take You There!