(January 19, 2021) Columbia, SC – The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET), in collaboration with Able South Carolina, announced two new mobility programs for citizens of the Midlands who are underserved by the present transit system. The funding for the mobility programs is made possible through a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant.
The Volunteer Transportation Reimbursement Program (V-TRIP) and Taxi Voucher Pick Up Program (PUP) were developed through a partnership with Able SC. Eligibility for both programs is available for people who are 65 and older and those with disabilities living outside The COMET service area but in the Columbia Urbanized Area. Orientation or training is required before starting. Included areas for the programs are:
- Arcadia Lakes
- Forest Acres
- The town of Lexington
- Pine Ridge
- South Congaree
- West Columbia
For V-TRIP, a program participant will be given funds to pay his or volunteer driver in the form of a reimbursement for mileage according to the federal mileage reimbursement rate. Volunteer drivers can be a friend or a neighbor. All trips must begin or end in the Columbia Urbanized Area. Reimbursement is available up to 100 miles per month, per program participant to pay the volunteer driver.
With PUP, a taxi or rideshare service like Uber or Lyft will be available 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The program provides a 50% discount up to $50 per month. Once applicants have completed the required training, turned in their application, and DART eligibility, Half Fare Program participation, or age of 65 or older has been confirmed, they will receive a Taxi Voucher Card for use with any participating rideshare or taxi of their choice. All trips must begin or end in the Columbia Urbanized Area to receive voucher funds.
“We look at this as a win-win for our respective organizations and the people of the Midlands,” said John Andoh, Executive Director/CEO of The COMET. “These programs help provide a seamless manner in which The COMET can deliver transportation services to include those areas where we may not have a regular bus route.”
“These programs will greatly increase accessible transportation options for people with disabilities in the Midlands, which will positively impact all other areas of their life,” said Kimberly Tissot, executive director of Able South Carolina. “With transportation, people with disabilities can maintain employment, pick up groceries and prescriptions, attend doctor’s visits, and maintain an independent lifestyle. We are very excited for this partnership with The COMET and look forward to continuing to work with them and any other transit authorities in South Carolina who would like to increase accessible transportation options for our community.”
“Our goal is to help communities to stay connected, and support transit agency leaders like COMET in improving access to reliable, affordable mobility options like our on-demand offerings,” said Colleen Shaffer, Senior Client Success Manager at Uber. “We’re excited to partner with COMET as they look at alternatives to the personal car through options like Uber and other shared ride services.”
For both programs and for more information, visit www.catchthecometsc.gov/whats-new/mobilitythatworksforyou/ , email Mobility@TheCOMETsc.gov , or call 803.255.7130.