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COTA Offering Free Rides This Week During Launch of Redesigned Network

Brent Warren Brent Warren COTA Offering Free Rides This Week During Launch of Redesigned NetworkPhoto by Walker Evans.
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The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) will offer free rides from May 1 – 7, the first week of its redesigned bus network, when schedule changes and altered routes will go into effect.

The idea is to ease what could be a rocky transition for regular COTA users, while also encouraging new riders to try out the system for the first time.

COTA employees have been stationed at busy stops since March to explain the coming changes and answer questions from riders about how their routes will be affected.

Maps and charts explaining the new network are available on COTA’s website. Another round of public meetings has also been scheduled to explain the changes, with two being held today (at noon and 6pm) and another pair on Tuesday, April 18th, at COTA’s headquarters at 33 N. High St.

The overhaul of the network is the first major retooling of the bus system in COTA’s 40-year history. The project has been a work in progress since early 2014, with scores of public meetings held to explain the changes and take input from riders.

The changes being made can be grouped into four broad categories:

  • Expansion of the frequent bus network – the number of routes with service every 15 minutes or better will grow significantly in the new network.
  • Increased service on the weekends – most routes currently run much less frequently on the weekends, the new network aims to provide frequent service seven days a week.
  • Straightening out and simplifying routes – taking out time-consuming detours, especially on high-frequency routes.
  • Fewer buses on High Street downtown (some routes will be shifted to Front Street, Third Street, and Fourth Street), combined with more service to new job centers like Easton and Rickenbacker.

For more information on the COTA’s Transit System Redesign, see www.cota.com.

[Related: Interview with COTA’s leadership about the new network]

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