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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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