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COTA Considering Fare Hike for 2018

Brent Warren Brent Warren COTA Considering Fare Hike for 2018Photo by Walker Evans.
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The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) is considering raising the price of a bus ride in Columbus for the first time since 2012.

A plan being presented by COTA in a series of public meetings this week calls for raising the standard fare from $2 to either $2.50 or $2.75. Those options will also be presented to the COTA Board of Trustees on October 25, along with a summary of the public input received.

The board is then scheduled to vote on the rate increase on November 15, with the new fare structure going into effect on January 1.

Under both of the scenarios presented, COTA would also end the practice of charging more for Express Buses and would make an unlimited two-hour ticket available for the first time. Also proposed is a “guaranteed lowest fare” system that would automatically charge customers the lower amount based on how much they’ve travelled (so if a rider takes more trips in a day than the cost of a day pass, she is charged only the cost of a day pass).

The CBUS circulator and transfers would remain free under both scenarios.

The presentation also outlines the case for the fare increase, comparing fares in Columbus to other cities in the region. The key metric for COTA is the “farebox recovery rate,” which measures the percentage of the agency’s operating expenses that is covered by passenger fares.

With a stated goal of a 20 percent, COTA’s farebox recovery rate has slipped to a little over 14 percent in recent years, as service has expanded. When COTA last looked into raising fares three years ago, the board rejected a staff-recommended 25-cent increase.

COTA continues to plan for a new fare collection system which would enable payment with a cell phone and, eventually, with a smart card.

For more information, including meeting times, see www.cota.com.

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