The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) and Columbus City Schools (CCS) have partnered to provide supplemental transportation services for the district's students in grades 8-12.
The CCS Board of Education approved legislation on Tuesday to spend $216,000 of CARES Act funds to provide 8,000 COTA passes at no cost to students and their families, according to a news release from the district. The passes are reportedly supplemental and do not replace the district’s school bus services.
“We believe that this new partnership with COTA will be a great benefit for our students and their families,” said CCS Superintendent/CEO Dr. Talisa Dixon. “This partnership provides so many more opportunities for our students. Using public transportation is a life skill that many have grown up using in a large metropolitan area. We want our students to learn about it and use it as a supplemental transportation service.”
To access COTA's services, students will use a QR code on their cell phone. Students who do not have access to a cell phone will be provided a physical card to board the bus for services, according to the district. The transit passes, which are active through Aug. 25, can be used for trips to school, extracurricular activities, internships, and other enrichment experiences such as summer programs.
“One of the most critical issues to our community is ensuring that students of the state’s largest school district can safely return to the classroom to learn and achieve,” said COTA President/CEO Joanna M. Pinkerton. “As the region’s mobility solutions provider, COTA is committed to working with our community leaders to connect people to prosperity, and that includes equitable access to education through mobility options. I thank Dr. Dixon for reaching out to COTA, and we are honored to help provide students and their families with access to our world-class service through this valuable partnership.”
COTA and CCS will provide school-specific maps showing all of the nearby bus stops and routes around each of the district’s high schools and middle schools. The two organizations are also partnering to provide additional travel training resources for students.
“Throughout the past year, we have been able to find creative ways of supporting our students and their families, and this is no different,” Dixon said. “We are looking forward to launching this partnership and empowering our students with another resource on their academic journey.”