Despite criticisms, COMET sees boom in boardings

Despite criticisms, COMET sees boom in boardings

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Tuesday was a day to celebrate the revival of Columbia's mass transit system and to feel good about bringing back a necessity that tens of thousands depend on daily.

But as administrators and civic leaders gathered in front of one of The COMET'S newest buses, longtime rider Mamie Jackson felt like it was time to set things straight.

"We have money in the bank," she said. "Go down to the treasurer at 2020 Hampton and see how much money we have in the bank and they refuse to spend it on us because this company cares nothing because we are all working class."

Jackson's comments put a brief damper on the public debut of newly named COMET Interim Director Ann August, who takes over for Bob Schneider. However, as a veteran of running transit systems, she said she will take Ms. Jackson's criticisms seriously.

"Everybody that rides in that bus is one of our constituents," said August, "and we have to listen to them because, if we don't correct the problems, they won't get fixed. And so, those are the things that we have to look at in our leadership positions. It doesn't mean that you don't listen to them. We have to listen to everyone."

The COMET is doing better than ever. The system has seen more than 800,000 boardings since the Penny Tax passed in 2012. It has also seen dozens of new buses that mostly come with Wi-Fi and other upgrades.

Still, August said she will be taking the criticisms of local riders to heart and believes people who ride daily know what's happening and "are not making these things up."

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