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COTA Cuts Service on Three Suburban Lines, More Changes Coming

Brent Warren Brent Warren COTA Cuts Service on Three Suburban Lines, More Changes ComingPhoto by Lauren Sega.
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The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) announced the first of what will likely be a series of changes to its service as the agency adapts to the spread of COVID-19 in the area.

Three lines will see reduced service starting today – Line 71 (Hilliard), Line 72 (Tuttle), and Line 73 (Dublin). More detailed information on the service changes is available here.

The fact that those three lines are the first to see reductions in service indicates we could see more scaling back of COTA’s limited-service, rush-hour-focused lines that take commuters from the suburbs to Downtown. With many Downtown employees working from home, ridership is likely already down significantly on those lines.

COTA President/CEO Joanna Pinkerton, in an email sent out yesterday afternoon, emphasized the importance of prioritizing service for those that will be relying on it most.

We are constantly evaluating the mobility needs of the community during this unprecedented time. Our goal is to be nimble – reactive to the community’s needs daily. You will see this reflected in our modified service, as we talk to partners about where the greatest need lies…Please know and understand our fixed route service may change daily beginning this week, and we will keep you up-to-date on current levels of service via website, social media, television news channels, posted signs, in person at our Customer Experience Center and via phone at our Customer Information Center.  Our Mainstream ADA service will operate at normal status this week, providing mobility to those who depend on us due to serious personal limitations. 

In the letter, Pinkerton singled out at least one community need that the agency will be looking to address.

I have had recent conversations with elected leaders about adjusting service to get children to school breakfast and lunch locations, with the Mid-Ohio Food Collective about how our property could potentially serve as distribution points, and numerous leaders about how we will react as new challenges unfold.

COTA also announced on Monday that any child traveling to one of the free breakfast and lunch pick-up spots will be permitted to ride for free on its buses (currently, only children four feet and under ride free).

Transit agencies around the country are grappling with the challenge of providing needed mobility during the coronavirus pandemic even as revenue from ridership is likely to decline greatly.

Up-to-date information on the latest service changes will be available online at COTA.com, in person at the COTA Customer Information Center, or by phone at 614-228-1776. Adjusted service will also show up on the Transit app and Google Maps.

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