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      MTRA aims to improve public transit

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- With Richland County's penny sales tax set to take effect in May, a new oversight board has been established to keep transit leaders on the right track; and to make sure bus riders have a say in how the money is being spent.

      The Midlands Transit Riders Association announced their launch Wednesday; promising to act as middle men between riders and CMRTA leaders. The group includes people who ride the bus, CMRTA board members and elected officials. They want to ensure people the money earned from a Richland County penny sales tax will be used to improve the city's public transit system.

      Voters passed the one cent increase in last Novembers election. Supporters say it will increase the sales tax to fund transportation projects. Officials say the 22 year sales tax should generate more than $300 million for public transit alone.

      "We are doing it right from the get to," CMRTA Executive Director Bob Schneider said. "We are not doing this five years from now cause the system has failed and they have lost confidence. We are trying to earn that confidence from day one and have that as part of our key partnerships."

      MTRA members say they have already heard from riders. They hope to expand services to Sunday, strive for affordable rider fees, and make sure decision makers spend money wisely.

      Bus riders can sign up for free to become a member of MTRA. Click to learn more.