COMET to the Market (Food Desert connection) and COMET @Night Partnerships, Columbia, South Carolina, 2019

  • Featured Overview
  • Date Launched: Jan 1, 2019


The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (COMET) has partnered with ridesourcing companies Lyft and Uber for two pilot programs. Both programs cover trips that start and end in The COMET fixed route service area. Per the Mass Transit article: “We want The COMET to be known as a mobility agency,” said John C. Andoh, the Executive Director/CEO of The COMET.

Overview of COMET

The agency provides public transit on 34 routes throughout the county. It serves approximately 2.8 million passenger trips per year, and it has a fleet of over 80 buses and vans. In late 2018, it signed agreements with both Lyft and Uber for the TNCs to provide subsidized rides in the agency’s service area for two different programs. For both services, wheelchair-accessible vehicles are available, and customers without a bank account are still able to use the service and make reservations.

COMET @ Night

This program is available on Lyft and Uber seven days a week between 9 PM and 3 AM. Users apply a promo code to get up to a $5.00 discount, and the promo codes are only available on COMET buses. The program is intended to provide late-night mobility access within The Comet service area.  All trip origins and destinations must be within the service area in order for the discount to apply.

The program has a $75,000 budget, and it replaced 12 bus routes that cost $335,000 to operate with 1.5
passengers or less on average.

COMET To The Market

This program is available seven days per week between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. and aims to connect customers to fresh food options. The community faces significant food deserts, and there are markets in areas that are not well served by traditional bus service due to lower population densities. COMET to the Market is available through both the Uber and Lyft apps and the program can be used twice a week per passenger. The agency will subsidize the first $5.00 of a trip.

The program also has a $75,000 budget, and the service area is restricted to just the COMET service area and select grocery store locations.

On the image below, the map on the left is a diagram of the known food deserts in the community. On the right is a map of the service area for the COMET To The Market program.

Two side-by-side maps of Columbia area; on left, map of food deserts; on right, map of service area for COMET program

COMET to the Market Service map; Source: COMET

For additional information on these two programs download the Comet FAQ, the System Map, or visit the The Comet website.

COMET’s agreements with both Uber and Lyft are also available for download:


Updated February 2020. 


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