Judy Saxton (left) and her sister Julie Vachon frequently use the COMET transit bus. Photo by Michelle Chance

Judy Saxton and Julie Vachon are sisters living their retirement years together in Maricopa. Tuesday morning the pair made their weekly trip to the grocery store by means of public transportation because neither of them drive.

“Thank heavens for COMET,” Saxton said, referring to the cosmic acronym for the City of Maricopa Express Transit.

For a $2 round-trip fee and a reservation made within 24 hours of a requested trip, the COMET local demand response shuttle picks up passengers at their homes and takes them to destinations within city limits.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the COMET shuttles passengers to locations outside of Maricopa. That route, called Limited Local Demand Response, averaged 7.7 passengers per week June 19-July 14. It takes passengers to Chandler and Casa Grande mainly for medical appointments, as well as requested destinations in Maricopa.

COMET passengers Tuesday morning ranged from 21 to nearly 100 years old.

The youngest rides the shuttle three times a week to get to work at Walmart. The oldest passenger rides with her daughter to medical appointments and shopping trips in Chandler about twice a week.

Alfreda Wallace, 69, said COMET is the only form of transportation she and her 98-year-old mother Mary Gardner use.

Like Saxton and Vachon, Wallace said the COMET line is “very important” in her life.

Agnes Peronnet, 83, also travels to Chandler and Casa Grande on the COMET.

“This is a blessing for me because I don’t drive and they’re so helpful,” Peronnet said. “The driver helps you get on the bus.”

According to the city website, all COMET vehicles are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A few passengers said they would like to see the COMET line expanded to include routes on Saturday.

Maricopa has had a transit system since 2006. Learn more about local transportation by clicking here.

Currently COMET operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 520-316-6959.

Photo by Michelle Chance

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