Columbia, SC - Commuting west on I-26 saw the return of an easier, less stressful, and less expensive option Tuesday when The COMET reactivated its bus service along I-26 to Newberry. The route is known as Route 93X – I-26 Express. It takes passengers from Newberry to Downtown Columbia and has stops in several areas that serve Lexington County including Chapin and the Harbison Wal-Mart which is just a stone’s throw inside Richland County. The Comet will have stops in Newberry, at the Samsung manufacturing facility, in Little Mountain, the town of Chapin, Ballentine, at Prisma Health Baptist Parkridge, the Harbison area Walmart, Prisma Health Richland, and then into Downtown Columbia. The route operates a complete round trip in the morning and in the afternoon to allow people to either access jobs in Columbia or Newberry, each weekday.
The COMET previously operated this service from 2003 to 2009 and then the Newberry County Council on Aging operated the service from 2009 to early 2018. Lack of funding caused the previous route’s termination. The new Route 93X offers amenities such as wi-fi on buses, cell phone charging ports, security cameras, bicycle racks, padded seats and wheelchair lift for those with mobility devices. In addition, passengers on this route can sign up for the Emergency Ride Home Program so that if an emergency was to happen, The COMET will pay for that person to get home to address the emergency up to four times a year. It’s like “Commuter Insurance”. The bus originally slated for use on this route seats 22 passengers.
“The COMET is excited to implement this route and include a new group of passengers to our system!” said John Andoh, Executive Director/CEO of The COMET. “There has been many former riders of the Newberry Express that wanted an opportunity to commute stress-free and they lobbied hard for the re-implementation of bus service to The COMET and other governmental agencies”.
The route offers park and ride lot opportunities in Newberry at Tractor Supply, Little Mountain Town Center, and the Walmarts in Ballentine and on Harbison Boulevard. The COMET continues to search for a permanent park and ride lot location in Chapin. The route is a pilot for one year to test the potential of service along the I-26 corridor and can be the catalyst for future growth and congestion relief when the Carolina Crossroads project goes into full swing. The route is being funded by the Federal Transit Administration, Lexington County General Funds and Richland County Transportation Penny funds. The cost to provide the route is approximately $102,791 annually.
Fares are $4 one way, $6 for an All-Day Day Pass, $28 for a 10-Ride Pass and $80 for a 31-Day Pass. Fares can be paid on board the bus, through The COMET’s website or through the CatchTheCOMET app. Route and schedule information is available at www.CatchTheCOMET.org or by calling (803) 255-7100.