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Free Bus Passes for Downtown Workers Coming in 2018

Brent Warren Brent Warren Free Bus Passes for Downtown Workers Coming in 2018Photo by Walker Evans.
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The board of the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District gave its stamp of approval yesterday to a plan to provide free bus passes for as many as 40,000 Downtown workers. The program has been in the planning stages for over two years, including a small pilot program that ran from June of 2015 to December of 2016 and served as a proof-of-concept for the idea.

Cleve Ricksecker, executive director of Capital Crossroads, said that the employee pass program will start on June 1, 2018. About half of the funding required for the program will come from an assessment paid by the Downtown property owners that are represented by Capital Crossroads. The other half will come from grants that are being secured by the organization.

The idea has gained support because of its potential to reduce the number of cars coming into Downtown each day by as many as 3,000. That in turn would free up parking spaces and potentially stimulate the office market, which has been hampered by a lack of parking despite the strong residential market and record-setting amounts of investment Downtown.

“What’s interesting about this, living in a town that has transit-phobia, is it’s a very practical, cost-effective way of promoting alternative transportation,” said Ricksecker, in an interview with Columbus Underground last March. “It doesn’t cost a billion dollars like building a line from suburbs…but it could result in a significant shift, and if it works, and we fill the buses coming into Downtown, it builds a case for other options coming into Downtown.”

Ricksecker said that Capital Crossroads has already fielded inquiries about the program from officials in other cities interested in the idea, including Cleveland and Cincinnati.

The passes would be available to workers in any commercial building within the Capital Crossroads boundaries. The City of Columbus and Franklin County have also indicated a willingness to participate in the program — meaning city and county employees Downtown would get the passes — and the owner of any residential building could also choose to buy in.

For more information, visit www.downtowncolumbus.com.

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