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COTA Responds to Complaints About Reroutes, Transporting Officers

Brent Warren Brent Warren COTA Responds to Complaints About Reroutes, Transporting OfficersProtesters line High Street in front of the Statehouse on May 30. Photo by Matt Ellis.
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Bus riders looking for service to or from Downtown have been out of luck since Saturday, May 30, and it’s not clear when service will resume.

Jeff Pullin, Public Information Officer for the Central Ohio Transit Authority, said that the rerouting of buses around Downtown will continue at least through tomorrow, when more protests are scheduled to take place.

Some have asked why the buses are being rerouted around the entirety of Downtown when the protests have been mostly concentrated along High Street, near the Statehouse grounds. Over a dozen COTA routes run through Downtown, traveling along many different streets and providing access to other lines for riders who need to transfer buses.

Pullin provided the following response:

COTA would like to get closer to downtown as soon as we are permitted to do so. At the moment, [Columbus Division of Police] is not permitting COTA to travel on streets that are currently under the CPD emergency. At this time, CPD has all downtown streets listed under the emergency. We look forward to providing service downtown as soon as we are permitted to do so.

COTA first announced the reroutes on Saturday morning, sending out an email around 10 a.m. that laid out a more limited rerouting plan, in which only six lines were affected. A second announcement came a little after 1 p.m., though, declaring that no buses would be traveling through Downtown at all, affecting lines 1 through 12, line 102 and CMAX.

That policy has remained in effect since, pushing the bus network’s main transfer point and the nightly 8 p.m. line-up service to the Near East Side, at the corner of East Broad Street and South Champion Avenue. 

COTA faced another round of criticism when a Twitter user posted a video of a COTA bus that appeared to be transporting police officers in protective gear to the site of the protests.

In response, COTA posted a statement on its website that read in part:

A longstanding agreement between COTA, CPD and emergency management authorities exists that allows CPD to transport officers on COTA when a state of emergency is declared. The video being shared on social media shows exactly that; our vehicles were used to transport police responding to what they believed to be a dangerous situation that occurred during the city’s emergency curfew. To be clear, we were not and are not transporting individuals detained by police action during any of the demonstrations.

For the latest information on the Downtown reroutes and other service changes, see www.cota.com.

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