The Catch-Up: Lexington, Batesburg-Leesville No Longer Serviced by Comet Bus

Posted 6/30/22

Last week, The COMET (the bus system less commonly known as the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority) announced that as of July 1, it would no longer provide service to towns of Lexington or …

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The Catch-Up: Lexington, Batesburg-Leesville No Longer Serviced by Comet Bus

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Last week, The COMET (the bus system less commonly known as the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority) announced that as of July 1, it would no longer provide service to towns of Lexington or Batesburg-Leesville, which sits on the county border of Lexington and Saluda.

“The COMET launched Route 97 as a pilot in January 2020 as part of the service enhancements previously approved by the Board of Directors,” a release states. “The rural route connected the West Columbia SuperStop at Williams Drive at Charleston Highway and Batesburg-Leesville via Lexington and operated three trips to West Columbia and two trips to Batesburg-Leesville every Thursday. For those that needed door-to-door assistance, the route also deviated up to one mile off-route allowing passengers to ‘flag’ the bus in-between bus stops in Batesburg-Leesville for an additional $2.00 charge.”

The release notes that the route was paid for with funds from the Federal Transit Administration (through the South Carolina Department of Transportation) and from Lexington County.

“We understand that there is a need for viable transportation services in this area to connect eastern Lexington County with services and opportunities in western Lexington County and Richland County,” Derrick Huggins, interim CEO of The COMET, is quoted. “We will take this time to work with Batesburg-Leesville’s leadership and community to explore what type of service we can develop that will work best for them to meet their transportation needs cost-effectively and efficiently.”

The Comet services the counties of Lexington and Richland and has one route to Newberry. Its reach in Lexington County outside of West Columbia and Cayce is sparse.

Cayce Increases Property Taxes

The City of Cayce is enacting a property tax increase.

On the 2022-23 budget council passed unanimously on a June 22 final reading, the city raised property taxes by about 8%.

That rate increase will cost residents an additional $1.35 per month for every $100,000 of home value, according to the budget. Before the vote, City Manager Tracy Hegler noted that this means that someone with a house worth $100,000 will now pay $1.35 more a month in property taxes.

Only one person spoke during the public forum on the budget that preceded the meeting. She said she understood why the tax was needed with inflation increasing prices, but she thought it could have been communicated with better transparency.

“We definitely did want to make this clear and transparent,” Hegler said ahead of the vote, noting that info about the budget was posted online in advance of the forum and final reading. “I think we were very good at that so that people could come and speak tonight about it.”

Largely driven by the increase in property taxes, the total expected revenue for the city is up from $15,326,977 the year before to $16,747,065.

“The City of Cayce has held steadfast, mainly in the face of COVID. But more importantly than that, our employees have remained steadfast,” Council Member Tim James said of the property tax increase. “[The amount] we’re asking to go up does not even cover the raises that these ladies and gentlemen are due. These folks have taken good, good care of our city. And I’m honored to be able to vote to be able to take good, good care of them and allow this raise to go into this budget.”

Lexington County Still Has Lowest Gas Prices in the Midlands

Lexington County continues to post some of the lowest gas prices in the state.

The average price of regular unleaded gas in the county was down to $4.252 per gallon as of June 28, according AAA South Carolina. It was $4.433 the week before.

The only counties in the state with lower gas prices were Oconee ($4.217), Cherokee ($4.232) and Abbeville ($4.235), all in the Upstate. 

Lexington County had the lowest gas prices in the Midlands — easily beating neighbors Richland ($4.293), Newberry ($4.487), Saluda ($4.356), Aiken ($4.421), Orangeburg ($4.526) and Calhoun ($4.530) — and was lower than any county in the PeeDee or Lowcountry.

The average price in the state was $4.406 (down from $4.520), while the U.S. average was $4.881 (down from $4.968).

According to GasBuddy, which ranks gas prices in different countries with the help of user reporting, the lowest prices in Lexington County as of June 28 were were:

Sam’s Club (350 Harbison Blvd. in Columbia) — $3.93

Murphy Express (4873 Augusta Rd. in Lexington) — $3.96

Murphy Express (2925 Sunset Blvd. in Lexington) — $3.97

Shell & Circle K (746 W Main St. in Lexington) — $3.97

Walmart (1019 Old Barnwell Rd. in West Columbia) — $3.97

Murphy Express (108 Knoll Station Dr. in Lexington) — $3.97

Speedway (815 N Lake Dr. in Lexington) — $3.97

Circle K (5372 Sunset Blvd. in Lexington) — $3.97

Gulf (1107 W Main St. in Lexington) — $3.98

Marathon (4001 Platt Springs Rd.) — $4.01



comet bus, lexington county public transit, batesburg-leesville commute, columbia transportation

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