Route 97 bus service resumes after COVID-19 shutdown

The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET) plans to resume its Route 97 “lifeline” bus service to and from Batesburg-Leesville this Thursday after buses were parked for two months because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Route 97, which connects Batesburg-Leesville residents to essential medical and governmental services in Lexington and West Columbia, will run from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays only. The service had been operational less than two months when the coronavirus forced a two-month shutdown.

According to John Andoh, executive director of The COMET, the decision to resume the transit authority’s rural bus service to/from Batesburg-Leesville follows Gov. Henry McMaster’s announcement of plans to widely reopen South Carolina. All transit services will continue to be free during this transition period.

“We are taking a graduated approach to carefully resume services,” Mr. Andoh said. “It is important that we continue to ensure safety and reliability to our riders and staff in providing the services of The COMET.”

Across its entire service area, The COMET has made schedule changes to add more routes and increase its bus frequency during the service’s peak demand times. Still, stringent safety measures remain in place on all routes; riders are “strongly encouraged to wear face coverings while traveling,” according to a release from The COMET.

Other safety measures include:

  • Social distancing seating and capacity limited to 20 passengers on the larger buses and four passengers on the smaller shuttle vehicles;
  • One-way travel with mandatory deboarding at end of line in order to minimize any occurrence of individuals attempting to ride non-stop;
  • Continuation of rear door boarding to minimize driver exposure; and
  • Strategically placed security at stops along the routes to help monitor adherence to safety protocol.

For more information on the schedule and safeguards, visit The COMET’s website.