Mayor Ross: ‘No one rides that bus’

BLYTHEWOOD – After being asked to appoint a member of the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce to the COMET bus board, Mayor J. Michael Ross didn’t mince words about whether the bus service is needed in Blythewood.

“Nobody ever sees anybody on that bus,” Ross said. “Initially we had some riders, but for me to vote to put someone on that board, I need to know how many people catch the COMET in Blythewood and come back on it to Blythewood.”

Ross told COMET executive director/CEO John Andoh that Council needed some real ridership data for the Blythewood route.

“We need to be clear,” Ross said to Andoh. “We have been asking for this data way before your time, but we get data that tells us about the bus, the 52-X Express. That’s wonderful. But that bus stays in service after it runs its routes here in the morning – two buses going into Columbia and two going out [back to Blythewood.] We as a council want to see how many people from Blythewood have used the services of the COMET this year,” Ross said.

“We’re not sure that money is being spent in the best way if no one is riding the bus,” he said. “I believe a vote to appoint a board member should be postponed until the March 16 council retreat, until we get actual data that shows how many [Blythewood] people ride that bus.”

Andoh explained that each boarding is recorded as a person boarding.

“If you board 3 times in a day,” Andeau said, “we treat that as three people boarding.”

Again Ross pressed for Blythewood rider data.

After looking at data on his laptop from May through November 2018, Andoh agreed with Ross.

“I can tell you that I’m not impressed with the numbers of 52-X,” Andoh said. “It is one of our lower performing routes and I believe that when this pilot program ends in May, we may need to look at doing something else with this service, maybe have two or three routes from Blythewood to Killian Road/Walmart and back and maybe priced for low-income residents and seniors.”

Looking further at the data on his laptop, Andoh said 52-X carried 1 passenger per trip on average and that the subsidy was $67.97 with a fair box recovery ratio of 1.5 percent.

“When you measure that to the rest of the system, that is very poor,” Andoh said.

Ross repeated his desire to postpone the vote for the appointment of a COMET board member until the March 16 town council retreat. Council agreed with a unanimous vote.


  1. Gus Philpott says

    “… Andoh said 52-X carried 1 passenger per trip on average and that the subsidy was $67.97 with a fair box recovery ratio of 1.5 percent.” That doesn’t sound very fair to me. Maybe he meant “fare box”. Was that one passenger a senior who paid a $1.00 fare? ($67.97 x 1.5%) Cancel the 52-X.

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