Lexington county officials are threatening to withdraw their $100,000 subsidy to Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority Service (CMRTA) unless a count of local ridership is provided.
The threat to withdraw funding is the latest in the series of demands made by political leaders on the RTA seeking to obtain more details regarding the actual operations undertaken by the service.
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin previously complained about the lack of transparency by the bus service and its operations. Transparency the mayor says is needed to help determine the amount of local subsidies provided to the service.
In a stinging letter, Lexington county officials deplored the “unacceptable delays in receiving information, incorrect information, incomplete information and quite often, no information provided to us at all.”
While RTA officials submit figures regarding the overall passenger counts on bus routes that run through Lexington County, the figures do not serve as a summary of the ridership in the area.
County leaders defend their threat to revoke the subsidy asserting that the information is necessary to determine the amount of support to be allocated for the service.
In reality, the threat to revoke funding is more of a paper tiger rather than a crippling measure to ground the bus operations of the agency as the subsidy from Lexington County amounts to approximately one percent of total RTA operations; Columbia and Richland Counties provide much higher figures. The total subsidies from the counties are used for to pay for the cost of the bus service as well as the transport of the disabled.
Currently, RTA provides morning and evening rush hours service on weekdays with stops in Cayce, West Columbia, Springdale, St. Andrews and Harbison.
We will keep you updated.