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COTA Impressesions 2008

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion COTA Impressesions 2008

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    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans

    I’ll be the first person to admit that I don’t ride the bus as much as I should, even though I fancy myself as a staunch supporter of mass transit. In all fairness, I’ve lived in German Village for the past five years and I really didn’t need to bus around much because I had a lot within walking distance of where I lived. Grocery store, coffee shops, stores, bars, restaurants. All walkable.

    Now that Anne & I have said goodbye to German Village and Hello to the KLD, we’re currently lacking in everyday walking options, and even though it’s only a quick 20-30 minute walk to most places downtown, it’s currently hard for me to make that trek on slippery sidewalks with sub-freezing temperatures.

    So yesterday, I decided to take the bus downtown for a lunchtime meeting, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I walked down to the corner stop near my house and stood outside for only three minutes. We have a stop that serves the 6, the 11, and the 16… all three of which will take me over to Broad & High (my destination) so during the day one of these three will pass through every 5-10 minutes. Easy enough.

    I hopped on and dropped in my $1.50 in change and grabbed a seat. The first thing that I noticed was that the bus was very clean. I hear a lot of people complain that they don’t ride the bus because it’s “dirty” but I didn’t find that was the case. At least not with this particular bus. I took a look around at my fellow riders and saw a mix of faces. Some people who looked like they were headed to work. Some people who were dressed a little more casually. No one looked overly dirty or smelly or crazy, as is often the negative stereotype associated with bus riders.

    After a quick 10 minute ride I had reached my destination. It would have only taken me 5 minutes to drive, but probably another 5 minutes to find a spot to park, plus a buck or two at a meter or more in a surface lot. I had to walk a block from the corner of Broad & High to get to my final destination, but it was brisk and I actually bumped into someone I know and had a quick chat.

    So there you have it. I know it sort of goes against the grain, but I’d describe my bus ride as clean, quick, easy, and cheap. And after being inspired last month by Jeff Johnson’s COTA Challenge I plan on attempting something similar pretty soon. Monthly bus passes are $45 bucks, which is roughly equivalent to 15 gallons of gas for the car. I’m sure I could easily offset that, not to mention the additional wear and tear costs that go into using a car.

    To be continued…



    I rode the #2 from Spring & High to campus five days a week for six weeks over the summer. My father would drop me off at his office downtown; I took the bus from the stop near his office to OSU’s law school for bar review.

    There was one regular on that morning route who was the kind of person that I think many people stereotype as the kind of person who rides the bus. Verbally challenged (very possibly in a medical sense), unkempt, somewhat ragged clothes, etc. He was also prone to talking to anyone, just on a whim. People used to only hearing voices with white-collar accents (and yes, there is such a thing, whether you realize it or not) could conceivably have been somewhat put off by such persons. I was annoyed at times, but for the most part was able to shrug and make some noncommittal murmurs of agreement when he said something to me; to this day, I still have no idea what topics he thought the conversation was about.

    Of course, he was a rarity, and if we were a little early or a little late, I would generally not see him. It was an eclectic mix of people, but nothing terribly off-putting. Of course, I blended in much better with my jeans and OSU T-shirts that I wore to bar review than I would have had I actually been going to work at a firm and been wearing a suit (or even business causal dress, which some firms have adopted, particularly those in the Arena District–but “business casual” in the professional-world sense, which means decent shoes, slacks, and a button-down shirt for men, not “preppy frat boy hitting the bars,” as is all too often misunderstood). I did see one person in a suit once or twice in those six weeks, but it was extremely rare.

    The demographics of the area the route runs through will, logically enough, affect the demographics of the people on the bus. The #2 runs to campus, so I fit in well enough dressed in my old OSU stuff. The #7 feels very similar. The one time I felt a little uncomfortable was when I was taking the #10 in from the west side … the bus was nearly full and I was the only white person on it, and the only one wearing clothing that suggested anything resembling college. Of course, most of those riders were little different than any others: they were sitting or standing quietly and just waiting for their stop. There was one knot of young men of the 16-21 age group, however (just eyeballing), who were a little bit more–erm, rambunctious. (Most of the other people on the bus apparently thought so, too, and one person seated next to me actually let out a visible sigh of relief when that group disembarked.) The rest of the trip back to Broad & High was uneventful, as had the outbound trip into Franklinton.

    I also routinely took the #84 from Campus to Lennox while I lived on campus, and can’t say I ever had an unpleasant experience other than tardiness–sometimes the late-evening runs, i.e., when the AMC Lennox is letting out after late movies, take their time showing up.

    I think that there was only one time when I saw a seat that I wouldn’t sit in because of dirt (or, in this case, worse): someone threw up on a seat across from me once. I was about to get off at the next stop, anyway, so I have no idea how the driver handled it; someone else up at the front told him about it, and the guy just nodded and kept on driving. (Which, I guess, I’d have done, too, having no idea what else to do.) That event does stick in my mind. As a routine matter, however, the buses were very ridable. Obviously, the floors looked like people walked on them, but then again, I imagine if you check the floors of most people’s cars, they’re not the cleanest surfaces in Christendom, either. The seats were clean enough to sit in with no problems; there were occasional remnants of long-dead stains on the upholstery, but nothing of the kind that one would worry about dirtying one’s clothes or person. (Figure if cleaning chemicals won’t get it off, it’s not going to come off on you with you just sitting there.)

    All in all, if I lived locally (say, no farther from downtown than Grandview or Merion Village) and didn’t need to dress up for work, I’d say it was a pretty good way to get around. Unfortunately, my work does require a standard of dress that does make me stand out on a typical COTA bus much more than I feel comfortable with. If I could get away with khakis and polos, that would be fine (a little dressier than most COTA riders, but not uncomfortably so), but I can’t. Also unfortunately, the after-work service drops dramatically in frequency, meaning that trying to use it for social outings (i.e., after changing out of work attire) or errands can be problematic, too.



    I rode the #2 bus today to get to work since there was still too much snow and slush on the road for safe bicycle operation. It was very good and quick. Got on at the 1st Ave stop next to Donatos and got off at the OlentangY St/Giant Eagle stop in southern Clintonville.

    The busses are always clean except for a day like today whenn all the salt, dirt, and slosh that comes with snow. The only other time I have seen busses a little trashed is one the last runs around midnight when the bus is about finished for the day…

    I did not observe who was riding as my attention was to the snopw covered sidewalks watching the pedestrians scurry about. Before I knew it I was at my stop. It was slower than a bike ride and nowwhere as exciting and arousing, but still a good time. Nothing wrong with COTA. We have no one to blame but ourselves.



    Walker, as much as many of us support public transportation, I think it’s premature to make a judgement about COTA after one day’s experience. I’m not averse to riding the bus, but I really have had some negative experiences. Once (and all it takes is once) I was about to sit down without looking, and thankfully someone had warned me before I did – but someone had shat themselves there earlier in the day. Another time, I rode behind a man with visible lice who smelled so bad my ears rang. The smell isn’t such a problem in the winter, btw. My wife has been harassed more than a few times by older men when she used to ride the #7 to campus. While those problems aren’t enough to keep me from riding COTA when I must, any one of them could be the deciding factor for another rider.



    i did ride the bus for years. from GV to downtown and from 17th and summit to downtown and everywhere in between.

    some busses are very clean, some are not.

    some busses are on time, some are not

    some busses are crowded, sometimes you are the only passenger

    sometimes they smell clean, sometimes they do not(busses and people)

    my major gripe is that at least with having the student ID, even when i was not in school it was free and I didn’t have to have correct change.

    the correct change thing would really be a pain for me.

    also standing in the freezing cold and/or rain for 15 minutes at a stop that doesn’t have a shelter is no fun, less fun if you just missed a buss and the next one is late, or doesn’t show at all….

    also being stuck on the bus when you feel the sudden urge to take a dump is not fun, you either need to get off and find a restroom or wait til you get to work or home. in a car you can turn around or drive to the nearest bathroom.

    so my biggest gripe is that with the bus your freedoms are limited and you are at the mercy of the bus schedule and routes.

    as with everything, everytime you gain something, you sacrifice something



    gramarye – you wouldn’t feel out of place wearing a nice suit on the #19 (Grandview/Arlington to downtown). There are people on that bus who live in those multi-million dollar homes near Marble Cliff; I took the 5:30 home once and felt under-dressed. I think it all depends on which route you are taking, and where it originates. I usually ride the #5, and, apart from a couple smelly encounters, that bus is usually populated with office workers and OSU students. I don’t feel uncomfortable wearing a suit on my daily commute (although on days like today I do wear jeans and change into dress pants at work; that snow was a mess!).

    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans

    joev wrote Walker, as much as many of us support public transportation, I think it’s premature to make a judgement about COTA after one day’s experience.

    I’m not saying this is a reflection of them as a whole. Just my experience with one ride on one bus yesterday. It was a decent enough ride though to inspire me to ride more often, which I plan on documenting both the good and the bad as I take “The COTA Challenge”.



    I ridden the bus almost every week day to work for the last 3 years. I know it might seem lazy to some to ride the bus from German Village, but I have to wear a tie everyday and sweat can be an issue, even in the winter.

    Anyways, I guess I’m just on the bus about 20 minutes usually everyday. I haven’t see some of the things listed. You do see some people talking to themselves. This woman the other day was trying to talk to me about a guy who stepped on her Jesus hat. Most of the time it is fine. I don’t ride on the weekends much. I have used it for OSU football, which was fantastic.

    I did ride it once to the arena district to go out, at about 11:00. That was a little weird. Also I forgot that all the buses stop for a long time on their last run of the day to allow people to transfer. So it didn’t work out great.



    Walker – you are awesome and I can’t wait to hear about your COTA challange. You should have Zach help you with a bike for spring. You’d be amazed at how quickly a week without a car goes by when there are other options available.

    YAY for people who aren’t afraid to tackle the COTA monster. If more people use it, we’re more likely to prove that this city needs and wants a real mass transit system.



    Don’t forget your COTA, its cold out.

    I heard that Schottenstiens’s are changing into Burlington COTA Factories.




    ghahahahahaha. Pretty good! :lol: :lol: :lol:



    since moving here in august, i’ve taken the bus about a dozen times from downtown to campus and grandview. in short, i hate it, but i’m a huge supporter of public transportation because operating a large machine terrifies me and i’ve wiped too many times on a bike.

    the route that runs along high street is the worst of the two because i get visually raped from the moment i start waiting at the bus stop (spring & high) to the moment i step off the bus. and then there was the crazy (talking to someone/himself) dude who turned around in his seat to stare even when i moved to a seat behind him. don’t get me wrong, there are loonies everywhere, but i seem to attract more in columbus than anywhere else in the u.s.



    Zach, all you need is this:



    Yeah, that looks like it would work OK. but it is not my style…

    Schmack… sounds like you need to Cowboy Up and not get your panties in a bunch about things not looking or acting the way you wish they would.



    i take the bus from time to time, if it’s under 25 degrees or weather like today. i’ve never had a real problem that caused me serious inconvenience. COTA isn’t bad or scary, and if you read the website and know the timetables, you will be ok.

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