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Free CBUS Downtown Circulator Launches

Brent Warren Brent Warren Free CBUS Downtown Circulator LaunchesPhoto by Walker Evans.
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COTA’s new free downtown circulator bus launched today, traveling in a loop between Sycamore Street in the Brewery District and Third Avenue in the Short North. Signs reading “CBUS” mark the stops for the new route, which was first announced by COTA in February.

The CBUS will run every 10 minutes from 7am to 7pm on weekdays, stretching to 15 minutes intervals from 7pm to 9pm. The new buses, which are smaller than normal COTA buses and feature distinctive branding, will run until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and from 10:30am to 6:30pm on Sundays (also every 15 minutes).

Cleve Ricksecker, who serves on COTA’s board of directors and is the Executive Director of the Discovery and Capital Crossroads Special Improvement Districts, likes the potential of the new line to increase ridership while also providing a new option for getting downtown;

“The new circulator will serve a number of audiences, including commuters, which is really important because we are running out of space to accommodate cars,” he said. “I’m hoping the CBUS is the beginning of more widespread use of all COTA service; we need people to take transit to be able fill downtown office towers and create more vibrancy.”

COTA provided Short North residents and visitors with a sneak peak at Saturday’s Gallery Hop – one of the new buses was on display in front of Victorian Gate and staff were available to answer questions about the service.

Betsy Pandora, Executive Director of the Short North Alliance, said that she was “delighted to share in COTA’s launch of the CBUS,” adding that, “we believe the CBUS will contribute to further building the vitality of the Short North Arts District and provide us with yet another exciting and needed alternative transit option.”

For more updates and discussion of the CBUS downtown circulator, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

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  • Kalman11

    I believe the best thing for Columbus is for all busses to stay off of High Street. This route will probably not be able to stay on time for its 10 minute intervals because High is jammed in the Short North. The city needs to come up with a different route that does not include any busses traveling down High. I mean all busses, not just CBUS busses. The city needs to move all bus stop locations to side streets as well. Unless the city wants to create more lanes on High, which is probably unrealistic, then the city needs to prevent busses from High.

    I understand that this issue has been raised before and was shot down, but as the Short North and downtown grow, it will only become more and more of an obvious problem that requires an imminent remedy.

    • uncleboo

      I’m fairly confident the overwhelming response to this is just the opposite. If you want a more forward thinking solution to the obvious problem eliminate the cars, not the busses.

      • Kalman11

        Eliminating cars will never happen. In theory, having only mass transit would be a great solution. Unfortunately, in Columbus cars will always be more popular than mass transit.

    • The Short North gets jammed during Gallery Hop and occasional other big events/festivals.

      I expect it will be able to keep up with a 10 minute interval fairly well from 7am to 7pm on weekdays when auto traffic is not at Gallery Hop levels of congestion.

  • GVguy

    I absolutely love the idea of this circulator. It is great for tourism in our city while at the same time being a realistic source of regular transportation for commuters. My only complaint is that it does not go through German Village. I realize the circulator is simply following an overlay of the “Night Owl” line in the Short North – Brewery District section of the route. However, a more beneficial route for the circulator would be to incorporate Third Street in German Village (perhaps by jogging east on Livingston from High St, south on Third and West on Whittier over to the Brewery District) in order to serve GV residents and potential tourists. Weekends downtown are seeing more and more tourist traffic, which is fantastic. The ciriculator will provide a great opportunity for them to visit some great areas within our urban core and see more of the city as a result. I love the idea behind it and hope it achieves a lot of success, so much so, that it grows to incorporate another fantastic neighborhood in our fine city!

    • The Night Owl service just removed (starting today) the southern leg that serviced German Village and the Brewery District due to low ridership.

      I agree that service to German Village would be nice, but only if German Village residents/visitors step up their game and actually ride it. ;)

      • GVguy

        I welcome the challenge, Walker! :)

        As a Third Street resident, I already plan to be a regular rider despite the necessary walk to the Brewery District to catch the bus. I’m confident my ridership would increase if the bus came into the Village. Beyond me though, I can see many utilizing it. Every morning, there are dozens of people who walk to work downtown from the Village and plenty of cabs are taken on the weekends (enough so that the cab companies devoted a sub-company to it–GV Cab Co.). Between residents and the hundreds of tourists who make their way to the Village on the weekends, I think it would be a great means of transporting people from the Village to downtown and the Short North to take in more of the city. Long term, I think permanent mass transit will have a significant effect in connecting our neighborhoods more.

      • jpunkster

      • That’s too bad. I’d take the Night Owl down to German Village when I’d get off work late on weekends. When I need to take the bus looks like I’ll have to walk from down town now. :/

  • Stephen43215

    How will the thousands of visitors to downtown from Ohio cities and countries know its free? I don’t see it branded anywhere its free.

    • joshlapp

      Agreed. FREE in big yellow letters seems like it would make sense. Make them removable if they decide they need to charge for the service.

      • GVguy

        You could always just reference “FREE” in the marquee where the name or route of the bus is identified.

        Word of mouth, advertising and the internet should direct a lot of people toward the circulator regardless. I’m sure hotels and restaurants will be more than happy to tell patrons about it. Plus, COTA could reference “FREE” on the signage for the stops.

  • Stephen43215

    Maybe Cota wants to cater to a certain group of people and by doing this they decided to not use free anywhere on the bus. I don’t understand how tourists will know this is free unless they really check into it.

  • mbeaumont

    There’s lots of ways to do it other than stamping free on the bus. Hotels can tell their guests about it on check-in, COTA can have pamphlets in hotel rooms, etc.

    I rode it to work this morning and COTA’s CEO, Curtis Stitt was on our bus talking to riders about the service. The buses are really nice and have that new bus smell. :)

    My bus showed up just as I arrived to my stop on 3rd Ave. Really excited to have this service, now I just hope they can keep it free into next year.

    • True. When I went to DC last year, we looked up transit info on the internets to find out about their circulator lines. We didn’t flag down a bus to ask a driver what the cost was. ;)

  • osubuckii17

    It would be great if they had an app available for this, similar to Car2Go, where you could see where the buses are located. That way you know if they are running on time or not. And even be cool if you could have an alert that tells you when it’s like 5-10 minutes away. That way, if you are shopping, etc., you can plan for it.

  • jpunkster

    The inside of the bus was pretty slick, I took one from downtown to the Brewery District this afternoon. Video monitors and cool seats made for a pleasant ride but despite being a frequent COTA rider I didn’t realize that the Broad & High stop isn’t at the normal northwest Broad & High location, I watched the CBUS fly by and stop on the southwest corner of Broad & High instead. Fortunately I only had to wait another few minutes for the next once I walked to a proper stop. I can see this being a little confusing, especially with the trees and planters obscuring the CBUS signs.

  • Cmilsted

    I am excited about this :)

    Does anyone know if they are wheelchair accessible?

    • Fairly certain that all new buses in 2014 are required to be wheelchair accessible. Helps with timeliness too when they have level-floor boarding (for wheelchairs, strollers, the elderly, etc).

  • Mike88

    I’ve ridden this a few times so far and had great experiences each time. Very glad to have this service up and running.

  • UrbanPlanner2112

    I’ve ridden it a few times and it seems to be pretty empty coming up from the Brewery District but then picks up once you get across the cap. Then it’s busier coming back down High from the north end of the line to about Nationwide.

  • Columbusrules

    I work downtown (with employer paid monthly parking at the Commons Garage). There are many times when I ask: should I walk, take a columbus bike, COTA, or drive. I hate to admit that I often drive to the other side of downtown. I think this being free has the potential to get me on the bus more often. Once I get in the habit of it, using COTA more often is a likely behavioral change for myself (and many other professionals).

    I do want to make sure that COTA is not offering me (White, middle class, professional) free service at the expense of others (especially those who do not have the option to drive but are reliant on COTA to get around daily.) Hopefully once we people of privilege get hooked onto public transit, they will start charging us and use the increased ridership to improve transportation options for low income central Ohioans.

    • Last time I checked, Downtown transportation needs are not exclusive to white middle class professionals. There are all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds looking for ways to get around Downtown.

  • shropfire

    A non-bus rider’s perspective:

    I was leaving the Kroger, in the Brewery district, when one of the new Circulators passed. I was struck by now quiet it was. Once behind it on the road, I was pleasantly surprised by how capable it was at keeping pace with impatient right foots.

    So, I hope this system works. I’d like more of the city’s buses to this new size.

  • Posole

    Did anyone notice that these buses have little TVs in them? I wasn’t on it long enough to see what was playing but I noticed the screens.

    • Just in-house advertising for the CBUS thus far.

  • chaserdanger

    I used to live in Columbus and I visit often. I have relatives that live in Neighborhood Launch so when I visit I usually dont have a car.

    Im coming down for Memorial Day and Im really excited to get around the main places we went by the CBUS. The fact that its free is awesome.

    My quirk as Ive come to think since Ive moved away that I think should be looked at is the availability to purchase COTA tickets.

    My wife mentioned when she was there she just took a cab because she didnt have cash on her and wasn’t near a Kroger or anything to purchase one.

    Vending machines that sell COTA tickets near major areas/tourist spots to get others to ride it?

  • Achekov

    I’ve ridden this about a half-dozen times now and yesterday for the second time I pulled the cord and the driver failed to stop at the next stop. So, my suggestion is to pull the cord and walk up and stand next to the driver to make sure that they stop.

    • Are they passing the CBUS stop or passing the regular bus stop? They don’t stop at all of the regular bus stops. One example is the south-bound Broad and High stop that is just north of Broad. They bypass that at and stop just south of Broad in front of Pizza Cucinova / Cinco.

  • mrsgeedeck

    Does anyone know if they plan on putting more buses on this route during festival season? I can see these buses getting pretty full during Pride and Comfest.

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