COTA adds microtransit service to expand mobility during COVID-19

Posted on May 22, 2020

The three-month pilot will provide transit access for customers who are experiencing lost fixed-route service in parts of Northeast Columbus, Westerville, Gahanna, and New Albany. COTA

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) is launching COTA//Plus microtransit service to complement existing transit options during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new COTA//Plus option is an on-demand pilot project to better serve northeast Franklin County customers impacted by COVID-19 service changes. The service is available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week and will require no fare in accordance with COTA’s current emergency operations. This is the second COTA//Plus pilot launched by COTA in the past year.

The three-month pilot will provide transit access for customers who are experiencing lost fixed-route service in parts of Northeast Columbus, Westerville, Gahanna, and New Albany. The area includes job centers such as Mount Carmel East Hospital and Easton. In April, COTA temporarily suspended Lines 25 (Brice), 35 (Dublin-Granville), and 45 (New Albany) to ease demands on operators during the pandemic.

Customers within the defined zone can use the COTA//Plus app to hail a COTA-branded vehicle to arrive at their nearest transit stop. Customers are transported to a transit stop within that defined zone, or to a transit stop that serves another bus line. The on-demand pilot can connect customers to seven active transit lines, including Line 10 and CMAX, which provide access to downtown Columbus.

“As the economy reopens, we are analyzing data from customers and businesses to reinvent how we serve the community and respond to areas in need of mobility,” said COTA President/CEO Joanna M. Pinkerton. “COTA Plus has already proven that microtransit can connect people to jobs, food, and health care in Grove City. By using our available resources, we can continue to serve our northeast Franklin County customers and grow our ridership in a safe and efficient way.”

COTA//Plus launched its initial microtransit project in Grove City in July 2019 and will expand to Westerville in August of this year.

COTA continues evaluating all aspects of its service and operations to keep employees safe and is working with the Transport Workers Union of America to ensure COTA’s operators have all they need to continue their work safely and effectively.

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