Mayor Benjamin holds bus ride promoting penny tax

Mayor Benjamin chatted with passengers while riding a CMRTA bus Thursday to show support for the Transportation Penny sales tax.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) -- Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin joined bus passengers Thursday on a ride to show support for the Transportation Penny sales tax.

Mayor Benjamin highlighted his support for the penny tax proposal on the ballot this year in Richland County by talking to bus passengers and reporters while riding a CMRTA bus.

Mayor Benjamin says passing the tax is critical to maintaining and improving the public bus system.

"The mark of a true metropolis -- of a true strong region; we have that right here -- is that we must have a strong efficient, effective and reliable public transportation system," said Benjamin. "That's what this vote on Tuesday is all about ."

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Opponents say the bus system can be fixed without burdening Richland County residents with increased taxes.

If voted in, the Transportation Penny would increase sales tax in Richland County from seven to eight percent. The tax would run over a 20 year period and would go into effect in May of 2013.

The money raised from the tax would go not only towards improving the bus system, but also improving roads, intersections, sidewalks and bike paths in the county.