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COTA Launches Late Night Bus Service on West Broad Street

Walker Evans Walker Evans COTA Launches Late Night Bus Service on West Broad Street
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The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) continues to add new service late into the weekend hours with the introduction of a new late night route on West Broad Street. Route number #222 is a new bus line launching tonight that connects Downtown Columbus with the Columbus Hollywood Casino from 7pm to 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. (CLICK HERE to view a PDF of the #222 Bus Schedule).

Leadership at COTA worked with officials at the Hollywood Casino to identify transit service that would benefit employees at the casino and also provide enhanced services for casino visitors. During the daytime, COTA operates four lines that service the west side area near the casino — routes #3, #6, #10 and #53.

“Customers routinely request more late night COTA service and we saw the employment opportunities coupled with the entertainment aspect as a way to replicate our Night Owl service in another part of the community,” said Marty Stutz, Vice President of Communications, Marketing and Customer Service at COTA. “From a planning perspective, the casino location serves as a good anchor for the end of a bus line, and West Broad Street is a busy transit corridor.”

COTA launched the #21 Night Owl route in 2009 servicing North High Street from Clintonville to Downtown Columbus during similar late night weekend timeframes. The service was originally targeted at Ohio State University students, but it proved popular enough to warrant expansion in 2010 and now continues on South High Street to German Village and the Brewery District.

“Increasingly we’re seeing more non-students riding including people who live along the High Street corridor getting to and from jobs or using it for recreation,” said Stutz. “For instance, Downtown or Victorian Village residents may take the Night Owl to events at the Wexner Center, and Clintonville residents may ride to movies at the South Campus Gateway.”

Similarly, while the new #222 service is being launched with casino visitors and employees in mind, Stutz expects to see a combination of vistors staying at Downtown hotels riding to the casino as well as other west side residents using it to travel to other destinations. Routes #21 and #222 have a transfer connection point at the Nationwide and High bus stops.

Beyond the #222, additional late night service could be launched if public demand warrants it. COTA is hosting the first of three Short-Range Transit Plan Update (SRTP) meetings where they will engage the public on the future needs of the community.

“It’s really a decision that will be made after we have a greater understanding of our customers’ needs balanced with the financial resources needed to add late night service,” says Stutz.

If you’re unable to attend the meetings, you can still provide feedback through this online form on COTA’s website.

More information can be found online at www.cota.com.

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  • columbusmike

    Yet no COTA service from the airport to downtown….

  • New late night service is good news. Airport service is a whole other topic. When someone hands you an apple, do you complain that it’s not two apples? ;)

    Personally, I probably won’t ride this all the way out to the casino too often, but having additional late night service for residents in Franklinton, The Hilltop, Westgate and Highland West is a very good thing IMHO.

  • As a west side resident, this is awesome. Sure beats a $20 cab ride.

  • It’ll be the perfect way to get yourself home to the wife after losing title to the family truckster. Also, the casino is charging $10 for parking, WTH, because clearly they aren’t going to make enough money on the gambling.

    But, to your point Walker, I am glad that we’re starting to get multiple bus lines with late night service.

  • $10 parking could help the bus ridership

  • wow, I didn’t know there is a parking charge for the casino! $10 is a lot!

  • mrpoppinzs

    The $10 parking surprised me as well. I had imagined it would be free.

  • Stephen43215

    Never heard of a casino charging to park.. so ridiculous! How about free alcohol? Is there a law in ohio that doesnt allow them to give it to patrons? In Vegas its all the free drinks you can have if you are playing slots or games.

  • mrpoppinzs

    What would be smart is if they had reverse parking charges.

    O-1 hour is $5, after 2 hours it is $2 and if you stay longer than 3 hours parking is free. The idea being to get you to stay longer and lose your money at the tables.

  • NEOBuckeye

    Charging for parking where space is limited, like in Downtown Cleveland, seems reasonable. Charging for parking where space is plentiful, like on the western fringe of Columbus, seems gratuitous.

  • mrpoppinzs

    ^ definitely agree, they are doing it because they can and would probably discontinue it if it hurts the bottom line. That said I have paid $$ to park at the fairgrounds and Vets Memorial when there has been a sea of open spaces.

  • i wonder how they have these late night routes scheduled. It would be very convenient if you were able to make a transfer from the #21 to the #222 in a reasonable amount of time.

  • ehill27

    This line seems more useful for west siders to get to/from downtown, or transfer to the SN or the Brewery District, than it does to get people to/from the Casino.

    If you’re not actually living along the 21 or 222, what is the point of having a late night line in terms of Casino travel? How are you going to get to your final destination when they drop you off downtown at 1AM?

  • bucki12


    I think they are appealing to people who already are along the #21 or downtown route. As you say, bus service in Columbus is very limited (especially at night), but this is a baby step in the right direction.

    I imagine the casino may eventually setup some kind of shuttle between themselves and the convention hotel/downtown hotels to get a bit of a captive audience with money to burn.

  • GiGiDupree

    The Casino is not charging money to park. I have been there twice now, and parking is free. Westland Mall was charging 10 dollars to park in their lot, but no one is parking their. The Casino has plenty of free parking with the large lots and the parking garage.

  • @ehill27 – Service starts with one line at a time. The 3C was sometimes chided because it didn’t service Toledo or Youngstown. But you have to start somewhere. Similarly, the #21 and #222 launched along some of the busiest bus ridership lines through fairly densely populated areas, not to mention the major hotels Downtown. Eventually, late night service can continue to expand and serve other areas.

    Personally, I’ve ridden the #21 back Downtown from the OSU area before and walked a mile home from High Street as there’s no late night service yet on the Near East Side. Worked ok for me.

  • Pablo

    Should have numbered the route “7 come 11”

    Yeah, parking is free at the casino. Larry Reuben (Plaza Properties), the owner of Westland, is trying to cash in on the casino.

  • ehill27

    @Walker – Don’t get me wrong, I think the expansion in service is great. I just think a more comprehensive plan would increase the potential for success.

    At a bare minimum, since Broad Street is among the top 3 routes, I don’t understand why this line doesn’t also run on East Broad.

  • Well, any type of expansion is an allocation of resources. New buses, more drivers, support staff, etc… it all costs money. Perhaps adding West Broad first and East Broad later makes more sense than doing both at once. Unfortunately, COTA doesn’t have unlimited amounts of money and resources to do it all at once. ;)

  • mrpoppinzs

    It looks like the 222 runs every 30 minutes, that would be the bare minimum for convenience. I think adding East Broad they would have to add several more buses to the route to keep that frequency.

  • Pickerington_Kyle

    a light rail to downtown would be even better… choo choo…

  • Graybeak

    What happened to the #777?

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