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UPDATED: COTA to Increase Frequency on 3 Lines, NightOwl to Stay

Brent Warren Brent Warren UPDATED: COTA to Increase Frequency on 3 Lines, NightOwl to StayPhoto by Brent Warren
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UPDATE (2/6/20, 9:31 a.m.): The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) has decided to continue service on its NightOwl line on North High Street. See below for a statement explaining the decision from Jeff Pullin, COTA’s Public Information Officer:

COTA really looked at the feedback from our customers and our team made the decision based on that feedback that NightOwl will remain part of our service.

This is why we hold public comment meetings – to gauge what customers need and what they would like to see improve. So we really thank our customers for being so engaged and explaining to us the importance of the service, especially after midnight.

Our next step will be engaging the business community along the NightOwl line to see what is needed in the future. After the valuable input from our customers, if we ever consider discontinuing NightOwl in the future, we would consider enhancing other lines in that area to fill any gaps. At the end of the day we want to make sure we are using our service hours wisely and we still provide the best service to our customers.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) is considering eliminating its NightOwl line, the bus that provides late-night service up and down North High Street three nights a week.

Jeff Pullin, COTA’s Public Information Officer, said that ridership on the line is down by about 50 percent since it launched in 2012. He said that part of that decline could be due to the subsequent arrival in Columbus of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft (and also scooters), but that the ridership “continues to fall year-over-year.”

The NightOwl runs from Downtown to Whetstone Park in Clintonville and back, from Thursday to Sunday. It runs every half hour – northbound service starts at 8:15 p.m. and continues through the 3 a.m. hour).

Pullin emphasized that the final decision on terminating the line will not be made until late March or early April, and that riders can still submit feedback on the proposal – via phone, at 614-228-1776, or online at www.cota.com/contact.

There also other possibilities for preserving some late-night service along the route. Currently, the #2 and #102 lines run along High Street through the midnight hour.

“We are looking at options to extend hours on the 2 or provide extended service on the 2 through the NightOwl service area,” Pullin said. “Those options are definitely on the table.”

COTA is also proposing to increase the number of buses running on the #2 and #9 lines, as well as on the CMAX. A presentation prepared by COTA laid out when the new buses would be running:

  • CMAX (Cleveland): 10-minute frequency begins at 2 p.m. instead of 3 p.m. on weekdays, between Northland Transit Center & Downtown
  • Line 2 (N. High/ E. Main): Increase weekday frequency to every 10 minutes between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and to every 12 minutes between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. (current frequencies are closer to 15 minutes)
  • Line 9 (W. Mound/Brentnell): Increase frequency from every 60 minutes to every 30 minutes all day, seven days per week in both directions  

The proposed changes (which include the service increases as well as the NightOwl changes) would go into effect on May 4. Public meetings to discuss the changes are scheduled for April 9 and April 14.

For more information, see www.cota.com.

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