COLUMBIA, SC — Columbias bus system, The COMET, will unveil a newly designed bus on the SC Gamecock Express route, which runs Thursday for USCs football game.
Bright colors are splashed across the entire bus, with The COMETs logo, which was displayed on The COMETs website CatchTheCOMET.org, launched this month. Inside the newly designed bus, the color scheme continues, with advertisements for The COMETs website and social media.
The finishing touches were being put on the bus Wednesday at SightLine Signs & Graphics in West Columbia.
The bus will be in use during the SC Gamecock Express route on Thursday. Football fans can pay $3.50 to receive a wristband that allows them to ride to and from the game on the Express after parking their cars in the Vista or on campus.
The wristbands allow riders to access the entire transit system for that day in addition to the shuttle to and from the stadium. The fleet of about two dozen buses will run the shuttle route continuously beginning four hours before kickoff and then again for two hours after the game, said Bob Schneider, executive director of The COMET, giving fans the option to tailgate.
Pickups are at Sumter and Greene streets, Lincoln and Blossom streets and at the State Fairgrounds, by the rocket.
The newly designed bus, which was bought in 2010, is the first of eight that will get the special treatment. All new vehicles bought will have a similar design, said Schneider.
Decisions on new bus operator, money
The board of directors for The COMET voted to narrow the field of bidders for the contract to operate the bus system from five to three.
The three remaining companies vying for the job include First Transit, Keolis and Veolia Transportation, which currently operates the system.
We reviewed the entities in areas to include their experience, their operating methodology, their inclusion of disadvantaged businesses and their professionalism, said Brain DeQuincey Newman, chairman of the board.
Newman said a final decision will be made and the operator will be in place by December.
The board of directors also approved a revenue anticipation note for $3 million dollars because the transportation penny tax funds, initially expected to be received in August, now are not expected to come in until October. The roughly $13,000 in interest the bond will collect is less than what the bus system will collect in passenger fares.
Reach Cope at 803-771-8657 or on Twitter @cassielcope.