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For Essential Travel, COTA and CoGo Are Still Available (But Scooters Aren’t)

Brent Warren Brent Warren For Essential Travel, COTA and CoGo Are Still Available (But Scooters Aren’t)Photo by Walker Evans.
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Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) announced more service adjustments yesterday. The agency announced its first Coronavirus-related changes on March 16, cutting back service on several suburban rush hour lines. Three days later COTA’s board approved making all bus rides free, and established a new policy that calls for passengers to board the bus at the side door instead of at the front.

As part of the latest announcement, rush hour lines are now completely eliminated until further notice. Service on the Night Owl and Air Connect lines remains suspended, and crosstown buses will continue to run on a reduced schedule.

Starting today, COTA is also rolling out a new operations model called “dynamic service,” in which COTA-branded vehicles will be deployed strategically to busy corridors, and then dispatched to pick up customers who may have been passed up because a bus is too crowded.

COTA’s current policy is to cap the total number of passengers on a bus at 20.

The latest information on service changes is available at COTA.com or by calling 614-228-1776.

A second transportation option for those without access to a car is CoGo, the bike share system with stations scattered around many Columbus neighborhoods and several nearby suburban jurisdictions. An update posted to the CoGo website on March 19 laid out new procedures for cleaning bikes and stations, and posts on social media since then have encouraged riders to “wash your hands immediately after riding public transportation – trains, buses, and bikeshare included.”

As for the rentable electric scooters that first showed up in Columbus in 2018 and continued to be ridden by thousands of people throughout 2019, they have largely disappeared from area streets and sidewalks.

Lime and Bird both pulled their fleets from most of the markets they operate in worldwide in mid-March. Spin, which has a smaller presence in Columbus, announced on March 24 that it was temporarily shutting down operations in most cities. Spin scooters will still be available in Detroit, Austin, San Francisco and a handful of other cities “where we can make an impact and where the city is supporting our efforts to provide a transportation option for essential purposes,” the company said in a statement.

Some local bike shops remain open, even after the state’s “Stay at Home” order went into effect on March 24. Paradise Garage in the Short North, for example, is offering curbside service for bike repairs and tune-ups.

For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

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