COTA Reveals New Transit Recommendations, Looks for Feedback
The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) started its NextGen initiative nearly two years ago, hoping to lay out a long-term vision for the future of transit in the region. A lot has changed since then – including the Smart City win, which fundamentally changed the landscape of transportation planning in Columbus – leading to delays in rolling out both COTA’s recommendations and those of city’s Connect Columbus plan.
COTA has now taken a major step, though, releasing a series of recommendations for the bus system as well as maps showing the corridors best suited for serious transit investment.
That investment could take the form of commuter rail, light rail, streetcars, or bus rapid transit — all grouped under the category of “high capacity transit corridors.”
The recommended corridors are divided into three categories – “Possible Today”, “Successful Tomorrow” and “Viable with Growth.” The three corridors deemed ready for high capacity transit now are High Street, East Main Street, and a small connector line running from East Franklinton to the campus of Columbus State Community College.
The next tier includes a commuter rail line connecting downtown and Polaris, an upgrade to the CMAX bus rapid transit line on Cleveland Avenue (which is set to open in January of 2018) and higher-capacity transit on Broad Street. Further in the future are possible protects like a Newark commuter rail line and a line traveling from downtown to the airport, and on to Easton.
The more general enhancements recommended in the plan seem to track fairly closely to those being implemented as part of COTA’s Transit System Redesign, which will be rolled out on May 1st. Other recommendations include “improvements to first/last mile access, accessible vehicles, and technologies to improve information, speed, and reliability,” all of which are being tackled in some way by the Smart Columbus initiative.
A new wave of public meetings is happening this week to get feedback on the proposals. For details on times and locations of the meetings, and for the opportunity to fill out an online survey, go to www.cota.com/Projects/NextGen.