COTA Looking at Raising Fares, Charging for CBUS
The Central Ohio Transit Agency (COTA) is looking into raising fares and charging to ride the CBUS downtown circulator. A standard bus ride would go from $2.00 to $2.25 and the cost of riding the CBUS would be fifty cents. Four public meetings are scheduled to present the possible fare adjustments and gather input.
COTA Public and Media Relations Manager Lisa Knapp stressed that the final decision has yet to made – COTA’s planning documents lay out a standard schedule for evaluating the fare structure every three years. As part of that evaluation, staff will gather input from the public over the next month and make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, who will likely vote on the proposal at their November meeting.
When the CBUS was first announced in February, COTA said it would remain free through the end of the year, but that sponsorship may be needed in the future to cover some of the cost of the line’s operation.
Knapp said that sponsorship, whether from a business, group of businesses, or a community organization, “is definitely something we are still pursuing.”
She added that the cost to operate the CBUS for a year is $1.3 million, and COTA would be looking to cover 20% of that with a sponsorship. (COTA’s long-stated goal for the system as a whole is to cover 80% of operations through sales tax revenue, with 20% being paid for by fares).
With the news that fares may be rising, questions have already been raised about the possibility of implementing new, more convenient fare collection methods on COTA, like the ability to pay with credit cards or a smart phone.
“It’s certainly something that is on our radar,” Knapp said, adding that, “a lot of the comments we’ve seen in the last couple of days in response to the fare proposal have addressed that. We don’t have any plans right now to purchase a system, but we are looking at best practices…at what some other transit systems our size have done.”
The public meetings on the proposed fare adjustments are scheduled for October 16th and 21st at noon, and October 23rd and 29th at 6pm. All take place in the William G. Porter Boardroom at 33 North High Street.
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For more info on COTA, visit www.cota.com.