COMET Chat with LeRoy DesChamps – June 2021

June 23, 2021


It is my pleasure to welcome you to the June 2021 version of COMET Chat. This is our first “chat” since assuming my new role as Interim Executive Director at The COMET. First, a little bit about me. I have been the Director of Administration & Operations/COO for several years, where I directed all administrative and operations related programs and functions for The COMET. Presently, I oversee The COMET organization and its contractual relationships until a new Executive Director is named by the Board of Directors.

As you may have noted, we have been very busy with businesses and daily life opening back up after a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our ridership is steadily rising to its pre-COVID numbers, and we thank you all for your continued support as we move the Midlands, one rider at a time.

Our “Don’t Miss Your Shot” campaign to provide free transportation to vaccination sites has been well received. Riders can use our fixed route buses, DART/Paratransit, and our V-TRIP and PUP programs. Recently, we partnered with Lyft, in cooperation with the United Way of the Midlands, and Uber to offer free rides to and from COVID-19 vaccination appointments in Richland and Lexington Counties. Each individual is allowed up to four free rides (two roundtrips) with up to $15 off each ride to and from vaccination appointments.

To receive a voucher to book trips through Uber go to:

To receive a voucher to book trips through Lyft, enter the codes below within the Lyft app:
First shot: COMETVAX1
Second shot: COMETVAX2

Additionally, last month we began offering free vaccines at our transit hub at COMET Central located on the corner of Laurel and Sumter Streets in the back gated parking lot. This project is in partnership with Health Force, LLC. Both the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are available. Vaccination and testing times are weekdays (weather permitting) from 8 a.m.- noon and 2 – 6 p.m.

As a team, we are always looking for ways to ensure we serve you better. I am proud to announce that five staff members have successfully completed the Westgate Center for Leadership and Management Development Transit Paratransit Management Certificate Program. Along with myself, Rosalyn Andrews, Director of Finance/CFO; Dr. Arlene Prince, Director of Regulatory Compliance/Civil Rights Officer, Tanisha Gibbons, Contract Compliance and Customer Experience Manager, and Natavis Eric Harris, Planning and Development Specialist, were awarded the Transit Paratransit Management Certificate by University of the Pacific, Eberhardt School of Business.

The program provided our team with very useful tools that helped us to further our knowledge in transit regulations and mandates. The resources that we were introduced to in this program helped me to reflect on The COMET, its challenges, successes, and opportunities on the path forward.

With every forward-reaching vision, we take lessons from glimpses of the past. This month, Juneteenth was recognized as a national holiday for the first time in history. The COMET was out in the community participating in the various events and transporting people to the festivities. Coincidentally, it is also the month that Sarah Mae Flemming made her contribution to the desegregation of public transportation and civil rights. As the historic story goes, on June 22, 1954, Sarah Mae Flemming, a 20-year-old resident of Eastover, boarded a crowded bus operated by South Carolina Electric & Gas Company. When asked to leave her seat and move toward the rear, Flemming resisted racial custom by attempting to exit from the front of the bus. The driver struck and ejected her from the bus on the corner of Main and Washington streets. The NAACP filed a lawsuit on her behalf, and in July 1955, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Brown desegregation mandate be applied to public transportation. The ruling was cited in the lawsuit that brought an end to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made famous by civil rights activists, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks.

As that local bus system, The COMET continues to lead the way to honor and respect Ms. Flemming for standing up for her rights as an American citizen. In closing, we recognized Pride Month on our social media channels and reaffirmed that The COMET welcomes all riders, staff and members of the community and respects the uniqueness of each individual as well as the common threads of humanity that bind us together.

It has been a delight to send this month’s update. Please reach out to me anytime if you have any thoughts, comments or questions about The COMET at 803.255.7081 or email [email protected].