The COMET's accomplishments over the years

May 27, 2022

Since 2013, the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (CMRTA) has been known to the public as The COMET. This came after the Transportation Penny Tax Program was approved by Richland County in 2012. This program enacted a 1% sales tax that raised funds for transportation in Richland County. 

In the almost ten years since ‘The COMET’ came to be, many programs have been put into place to ensure everyone in the Midlands who needs transportation, receives it. 

The first of those programs was the ReFlex service that started by expanding operating hours and its reach into new, rural areas. ReFlex offers flexible, on-demand transit services that combine ADA paratransit and general public transit into one. It also offers a large service zone that connects riders to other COMET routes at specific transfer points.

A white bus with green text that says 'Reflex' and 803-255-7123. The bus is driving down the road.
Photo by Michael Dantzler

In 2018, The COMET began offering access to fresh food and late night transportation via “The COMET on the Go!” program. Through this program, The COMET partners with rideshare services to address the issue of food security for those living in food deserts and late night travel in the Midlands.Two programs were created under the umbrella of The COMET on the Go! Those being COMET to the Market and COMET at Night. 

[A woman holding a bag of groceries that has bread and fresh flowers inside. The woman is standing near a COMET bus stop and Blue Bike SC location. The woman is black with blond braided hair and a leather jacket. She is smiling gently at the camera. ]
Photo by Michael Dantzler

The COMET’s partnership with Foodshare South Carolina was also developed at this time. This program provides access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables through FoodShare SC Fresh Food boxes that are sold at COMET Central on select days each month.

[A man and a woman are inside of COMET Central both holding a brown box that says ‘Foodshare’ and has an image of a radish above the text. The man and woman are both dressed in nice clothes and appear to be smiling behind their white masks.]
Photo by Michael Dantzler

The following year, The COMET expanded ways for Midlands residents to travel even further. VanPool was brought into the mix as a partnership with Enterprise that provides access to major employment sites and allows commuters to team up and ride with coworkers. A partnership with Blue Bike SC was also established to promote short bike trips within core Midlands communities.

In 2020, UofSC Transit powered by The COMET was established under a contract with the University of South Carolina. The unique partnership is one of the first models to integrate public transit within a university campus shuttle system. This service allows UofSC students, staff and faculty to ride UofSC Transit for free to over 30 locations on the Columbia campus. All you need to ride is a valid Carolina Card.

In 2021, The COMET introduced the Volunteer Transportation Reimbursement Program (V-TRIP) and the Taxi Voucher Pick Up Program (PUP). Both of these programs were developed through a partnership with Able SC — a statewide resource for independent living. These programs are available for people 65 years and older as well as those living with a disability outside of The COMET’s service area but inside the Columbia Urbanized Area. 

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, The COMET implemented the ‘Don’t Miss Your Shot’ campaign. This was one of the nations first programs that provided free public transportation to COVID-19 vaccination sites as well as on-site vaccines and tests at COMET Central. Over 14,000 tests and vaccines were given because of this campaign. Because of the campaign's immense success, The COMET is now partnering with SCDHEC and local healthcare providers to increase diabetes awareness.

As transit continues to grow and evolve, The COMET continues to do the same. The COMET is dedicated to seeking innovative ways to provide access to healthcare, education and economic empowerment for all in the Midlands.