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COTA Launches New Airport-Downtown Bus Service Today

Walker Evans Walker Evans COTA Launches New Airport-Downtown Bus Service TodayPhoto by Walker Evans.
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The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) has been making the news a lot over the span of the past week, with updates on the CBUS Circulator, the fall levy renewal, and real-time tracking technology going into effect this Friday. Another significant service update the for bus system arrived this morning when the new AirConnect route officially launched.

The new route operates as a direct shuttle service between Port Columbus and Downtown, making stops at the Convention Center and near many of the largest Downtown hotels. A one-way trip will cost riders $2.75, a price significantly lower than a single-passenger taxi or Uber ride. The brand new buses come equipped with luggage racks and USB charging ports for added convenience.

“Our goal in the broader community is to provide additional options to connect people from the Airport to Downtown,” explained COTA CEO & President Curtis Stitt. “The more options people have, the more likely they’re going to be to opt out of driving a single-occupant vehicle to get to where they have to go.”

The direct service is designed to benefit convention-goers and event-based travelers who visit Columbus and stay Downtown, and that demographic of ridership is likely to continue to grow. Experience Columbus reported last year that visitor volume has grown to nearly 38 million visitors per year while both hotel occupancy rates and rental rates are both on the rise. Port Columbus has reported over two years of consecutive monthly airport traveller growth, with over 630,000 passengers per month in March. Port Columbus just unveiled an $80 million facility renovation while the Convention Center is in the middle of a $125 million renovation and expansion project. Additionally, six new hotels of various sizes have been proposed for construction Downtown, with many more hotels already under way throughout the region.

“I’m really excited about the level of enthusiasm from Experience Columbus, the Convention Authority and the Airport all working together,” said Stitt. “I think that’s what’s going to make this new service work well.”

The AirConnect route will operate seven days per week, from 6am to 9pm, running every 30 minutes. New arrivals at Port Columbus will see signage about the AirConnect to find out about bus departure schedules, and will have access to a kiosk to buy tickets in advance.

“We wanted to make sure that it was service that was easy to understand,” said Stitt. “The half-hour service is frequent enough so that by the time you touch down, taxi from the runway, and get through baggage claim, you’ll know how much time you’ve got for the next AirConnect to depart.”

AirConnect buses will be easily identifiable with branding that mirrors the CBUS Circulator, instead of being given a more traditional route number and standard COTA bus appearance. Stitt said that the two types of branded buses go hand-in-hand.

“Now, we’ve got two circulators,” said Stitt. “One is red and one is blue, which should work well for helping folks understand which one to use.”

For more information, visit www.cota.com/AirConnect.


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  • mbeaumont

    Seems pretty well thought-out actually. Route, branding, price, etc. Sure we could always complain that it should run every 15 minutes, but I feel like 30 minutes is a decent place to start in regards to ROI.

  • The Sarcastic Medved

    wow Columbus perhaps soon you’ll enter the late 90’s on regards to public transportation.

  • stephentszuter

    This is pretty awesome, and I’ll definitely use it.

    My only concern is that if you’re starting downtown, you have to have $2.75 exact change (or $3.00) to get on. I know the payments technology issue is a huge one and that they’re supposedly working on it, but in the meantime, it’s going to be a pain.

    I think I’ll just grab a ton of the tickets from the kiosk next time I’m at the airport.

    • I believe you’ll also be able to buy AirConnect tickets from the kiosk at the COTA HQ Downtown.

      • ohbr

        sooooo convenient.

  • JMan

    Good and welcome news.

  • Ned23

    It’s likely that I’ll use this rarely, maybe to meet someone at the airport after work on occasion. However, it does make it possible to schedule a conference that we’re planning for 2019 downtown. They didn’t want to make everyone take cabs, and didn’t want long, infrequent hotel shuttle rides, so they were going to keep it out near the airport…which is…boooring. The people would have been here for 3 days and never seen anything but the airport area.

  • MichaelC

    I’ll be using this next month! Great stuff. Hope it is wildly successful.

  • begreenandhealyourself

    This is next!

  • Jmoore2090

    Hopefully their other ad buys SCREAM $2.75! If I am new to Cbus (or am returning to Cbus) and looking for transportation from CMH to the Downtown area, I’d likely Uber… unless of course I knew this was a fraction of the cost.

    • Jmoore2090

      Excited nonetheless!

    • Ned23

      Hopefully they have alternate payment or give change. Otherwise people will still use Uber on their phones.

  • toledo

    Congrats to COTA and all of Franklin County’s fine citizens who distinguish personal well being from that of their rust bucket.

    • Ned23

      I happen to like the Rusty Bucket now and then.

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