Midlands’ COMET bus system suspends route to Batesburg-Leesville

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Columbia’s regional bus system will end its route to rural Batesburg-Leesville, officials said Friday.

The COMET bus system, which serves Richland County and parts of Lexington County, said in a Friday afternoon release that it will suspend route 97, which provided bus service to Lexington County’s Batesburg-Leesville. The route will be suspended as of July 1.

Officials said the route has suffered from low ridership.

“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,” interim COMET CEO Derrick Huggins said in a statement. “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.”

Route 97 to Batesburg-Leesville was launched as a pilot in January 2020, and connected with the bus system’s West Columbia superstop on Williams Drive. The route had been funded with a mix of federal, state and local money.

Batesburg-Leesville, a town of about 5,500 residents, is about 35 miles from downtown Columbia.

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