While it’s still unclear who will be running the Midlands bus system, The COMET is offering new routes and new rates in the Midlands in hopes of appealing to students as area schools open.
On Aug. 18, the COMET started the Garnet route, which will run every 20 minutes from the University of South Carolina campus to student apartment complexes along Bluff Road and will extend to the Olympia neighborhoods, according to COMET Executive Director Bob Schneider.
Another new route that will likely accommodate college students is Route 201, which will connect the downtown area to the Rosewood neighborhoods, according to Schneider. It will start in September.
The COMET will also be offering the Gamecock Express, which will provide downtown transportation on gameday to the USC stadium. A $3 ticket also includes a return trip at the end of the game. According to the COMET website, downtown stops will be made at Greene and Sumter; Lincoln and Blossom; and Hamrick and Rosewood intersections.
In the past, students haven’t been a big part of the system’s ridership. But the COMET now makes an explicit pitch to students on its website, catchthecomet.org:
“At The COMET, we feel your pain. Having a car around campus is expensive. There’s gas, parking, insurance and repairs, and living off mac-n-cheese and instant noodles can only do so much to help. So, for an affordable way to get around the Midlands Area, give The COMET a try.”
In addition to routes to the USC campus, The COMET also has routes going to Benedict College, Allen University, Columbia College, Lutheran Seminary, USC School of Medicine and Midlands Tech (both Beltline and Airport campuses).
Schneider says the bus system should also appeal to younger students who need transportation to local high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. Students 16-18 years old can get half-price tickets, and those under 16 can ride free, according to Schneider.
And students do not have to worry about the transit system shutting down on the holidays some schools don’t observe.
The system is offering bus services on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and New Year’s Day, holidays on which it previously closed. That leaves only two days a year — Thanksgiving and Christmas — without bus service.
The COMET has cut the price for all-day passes to $3 and eliminated end-of-the-line charges and transfers. Riders will also be able to buy five- and seven-day passes.
Meanwhile, the COMET board of directors is continuing a long and drawn-out selection process to determine what company should operate the system.
At a special meeting Aug. 13, the governing board once again voted to rebid the contract, which is valued at more than $7 million a year and would last for 10 years.
Veolia, current operator of the system, along with First Transit and Keolis, were the three finalists for the new contract negotiations that began in January, but the process was aborted for reasons undisclosed by the board.
Veolia’s contract was set to expire in April, but it has been renewed monthly as the contract deliberations have continued.
Board chairman Brian DeQuincey Newman says the new bidding process should take no more than three months.
Bluegrass, Bidding, and BBQ
Join The Palladium Society Thursday, October 23rd from 7-10 p.m. for its 11th annual silent auction, featuring music by The Mustache Brothers and catering by Bourbon and The Oak Table. Tickets are $30 at the door and include admission, drinks, and food. Get yours online now!
Four Miles, Twelve Doughnuts
Winston’s Wish aims to increase knowledge and understanding of children with autism, and you can help by participating in the 4.donut Race on October 25th. Start at Edventure Children’s Museum, run 2 miles to Krispy Kreme, eat 12 doughnuts, and run back! Registration is required and can be done here before October 23rd at 5 p.m.
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Cupcake now hiring a closing manager. Must be outgoing, customer service focused, able to work evenings and weekends. Apply in person. 1213 Lincoln Street, Columbia SC 29201. freshcupcakes.com
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Local business is searching for new associates who are looking for a fun environment to earn great wages. Great position for college students/recent graduates. Must be well-mannered with excellent customer service skills/work ethic/ability to lift heavy items/must have valid Driver’s License. Call 803-376-4884 or email resume: email@example.com.
Real Estate Spotlight
The Lake Carolina new home community has it all! 1 YMCA, 3 pools, 10 parks, 20+ community events each year, and much more! Learn more. www.lakecarolina.com