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New COTA Program Surpasses Goal in Getting Downtown Workers Commuting

Walker Evans Walker Evans New COTA Program Surpasses Goal in Getting Downtown Workers CommutingPhoto by Walker Evans.
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Last April, the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District and Central Ohio Transit Authority unveiled a pilot program for Downtown workers, which allowed commuters to ride COTA buses to work at no personal cost, in an effort to reduce demand for parking spaces, which has become expensive and scarce for many workers. The newly released 2015 year-end Downtown annual report reveals that in just three months that program was able to divert 5.8 percent of the workers eligible in the pilot program to bus ridership.

“That is a significant number,” said Marc Conte, Deputy Director of Research, Planning & Facilities at Capital Crossroads. “If you look at any Downtown with a robust transit system in any market, you’re not going to see a majority of the workers taking transit, and we don’t need to see that in Columbus either. If we can double the number taking transit, aside from having environmental and societal benefits, it will free up parking and allow more office space to get leased.”

Currently, the pilot program is testing the model with five Downtown employers: Huntington, Porter Wright, Bricker & Eckler, State Auto and Nationwide Insurance. These five businesses have 1,100 employees eligible for the program, which means that approximately 64 people have switch from driving to bus ridership.

If the program is rolled out to all Downtown employers and the 5.8 percent diversion rate is maintained, it would free up nearly 2,000 parking spaces — the equivalent of four or five large parking garages. That diversion would allow parking prices to stabilize, and allow office leasing agents more flexibility for attracting new tenants and new jobs to the area.

The pilot program is expected to be studied and evaluated for a total of 19 months to measure its effectiveness.

To read more about the Next Generation of transit in Columbus, CLICK HERE for our interview with Stitt.

To view the full State of Downtown Columbus Year End 2015 Report, CLICK HERE (PDF).

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