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Driver Shortage Leads to Longer Wait Times for COTA Riders

Brent Warren Brent Warren Driver Shortage Leads to Longer Wait Times for COTA RidersPhoto by Walker Evans.
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The Central Ohio Transit Authority makes changes to its routes and service schedules three times a year – in January, May and September. The January 2022 changes, which went into effect on the 3rd, have meant longer wait times for riders of some of the agency’s most popular routes.

A COTA spokesperson said that she hopes these changes are temporary, but a lot depends on the course of the pandemic and the ability of the agency to hire more drivers.

“The nationwide workforce shortage combined with rising COVID-19 cases has impacted service. To continue to offer the best service possible, COTA assesses capacity daily to meet community needs,” said Sara McCain, COTA’s director of corporate communications. “To address these impacts, we are actively working to recruit, hire, and train new operators so that we can add service hours to our system in parallel. Our goal is to have sufficient operators to restore service by May, but we have learned throughout this pandemic there are forces beyond our control that make this difficult to predict with any certainty.”

At a public comment meeting streamed on Facebook in December, COTA officials laid out the planned changes to lines 1, 2, 3, 10, 22, 23, 24, 34, 102 and the CMAX line:

A screenshot from a COTA presentation on the service changes that went into effect on January 3.

Last September, COTA cited a driver shortage as the primary reason it was unable to bring back late night service, which had first been cut back at the beginning of the pandemic.

McCain said that riders can call COTA’s Customer Care Center at 614-228-1776, or check COTA.com or the agency’s social media channels for the latest updates on route information and service changes.

Additional Reading:

COTA Launches New Bus Fare Payment System

COTA’s First Electric Buses to Start Running Next Week

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