COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - In the past, it seems Columbia Public Transportation has been all about the bus, but new executive director John Andoh has plans to open up other options.
“Starting in January, for those that live in the suburban areas that want to commute collectively in a group, the COMET will pay the first $500 towards the rental cost of that van and an individual would form what are called these ‘van pool groups,’” Andoh said.
He said with the new program, you’ll be able to rent a van “that’ll be branded with COMET on it” to meet up at a location near your home for a joint commute to and from work.
“As long as the van originates or ends in Richland or Lexington counties, we’ll be happy to provide that subsidy to those groups,” Andoh said.
So, let’s say you and six neighbors in Forest Acres all work in Downtown Columbia. You could all ride together to and from work every day for the monthly cost of your seat in the vehicle. As long as you stick to travelling the general areas along that daily route, COMET will offer the $500 credit.
If you vary off of the path, you’ll be dipping into the 200 personal miles the vehicle is allotted each month.
“As long as your van pool’s in existence, you’ll keep the van and, every so often, Enterprise will change out the van based on mileage and maintenance,” Andoh said.
He said you can opt to create your own group of commuters or you can be paired with folks who have a route similar to your own by using COMET’s database of interested riders.
Along with all of this, Andoh said they’re still working to make sure the bus routes are efficient as possible.
“Adding frequency to popular routes, re-tooling routes that aren’t performing well by looking at reducing service, and discontinuing services,” he said when asked about changes headed our way for 2019. He also says they’ll be adding long distance express routes in to Sumter and Newberry in May.
Andoh said more ridership equals more federal transit funding. That’s why he’s looking to bring new life and more choices to COMET in hopes that riders will hop on.
“As long as we keep our system efficient and we’re leveraging our dollars properly, we can provide the best service possible,” he said.
The van pool system will be rolling out next month and, depending on the vehicle, Andoh estimated that it would cost about $75 to $90 a month for your individual seat.