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COMET director John Andoh resigns as head of Midlands bus system

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John Andoh (copy)

John Andoh, shown in this file photo, has resigned as CEO and director of the COMET bus system, the agency announced.

COLUMBIA — The head of the Midlands public transit system has resigned to pursue another opportunity, he told The Post and Courier on April 7.

John Andoh, CEO and executive director of the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority — known as The Comet — has resigned the position in a move accepted by the agency's board, a news release said.

Andoh's departure was announced in a special board meeting April 5 and the news released by the agency a day later. Andoh told The Post and Courier he was leaving to pursue another opportunity and had informed the board and offered the proper notice required by his contract.

Andoh's last day will be April 15. He declined to reveal his new job but said it was a position in public transit outside of South Carolina and that he would start at the end of April.

"I feel that I did a lot at The Comet, and I'm just looking to make a change," Andoh told The Post and Courier. "It was a great three-year run."

Andoh was hired in 2018 to a five-year contract and $140,000 salary, the Free Times reported at the time. His resignation comes after he publicly apologized in February for service issues amid route and schedule changes as the agency dealt with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COMET spokeswoman Pamela Bynoe-Reed told a reporter in sending the release the agency would not comment beyond the release. A subsequent phone message and email for her April 6 weren't returned.

In a statement, COMET board Chairman Derrick Huggins thanked Andoh and said the director negotiated with the University of South Carolina for COMET to operate the school's bus system, added transportation options for older people and those with disabilities, and expanded service to grocery stores for those who live areas without fresh food options.

"He also helped steer The COMET through the COVID-19 pandemic implementing health and safety protocols to keep drivers and passengers as safe as possible while continuing service during these critical times," Huggins, vice president of facilities and transportation at USC, said in the statement.

LeRoy DesChamps, the organization's chief operating officer, will assume the interim director's role while the board begins searching for Andoh's replacement, the release said.

DesChamps has previously been director of administration and human resource administrator for the agency and also transit development manager, the agency said.

The transit system was founded almost 20 years ago and serves 34 bus routes in Richland and Lexington counties via an agreement with the county governments, city of Columbia and city of Forest Acres. The agency reported almost 2.5 million riders on its 83 buses and vans during the most recent fiscal year.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated when Andoh's resignation was effective. The article has also been updated to add the reason Andoh says he is leaving.

Reach Stephen Fastenau at 803-365-3235. Follow him on Twitter @StephenFastenau.

Columbia reporter

Stephen Fastenau is a local government reporter covering the City of Columbia, Richland County and general assignments. He returned to Columbia after 10 years as a reporter at The Island Packet and is a University of South Carolina graduate.

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