The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) experienced a ridership increase of 3% in 2018 over 2017. It is the highest increase at COTA in three years.
COTA’s total ridership in 2018 was 18,914,789, compared to 18,401,546 in 2017. The increase in ridership occurred despite 2018 being the wettest year on record for Columbus, and is attributed to a full-year of service within the new transit system redesign, the implementation of the first bus rapid transit (BRT) line CMAX, and the success of C-pass, a new employer-paid transit program.
CMAX launched in January 2018. The BRT line travels along Columbus’ Cleveland Avenue Corridor, from downtown Columbus to Westerville. Ridership along the Cleveland Corridor increased by 17% in its inaugural year.
COTA also launched C-pass in June 2018. As part of a partnership with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District, eligible downtown Columbus employees can get unlimited bus access at no cost to employees. The cost is covered by employers and MORPC. To date, 13,741 employees are enrolled and 52% of downtown businesses participate in the C-pass program, delivering more than 524,700 rides in just six months.
COTA AirConnect, which provides express service from John Glenn Columbus International Airport to downtown Columbus, saw a 24% increase in 2018, adding nearly 6,900 more customers than the year prior.
CBUS also saw a 4% increase in ridership in 2018. CBUS provides free service in the heart of Columbus, with stops in German Village, Downtown, the Arena District, and the Short North.