COTA Receives $2.7 Million from ODOT to Study Feasibility of East-West Workforce Connector and to Boost COTA’s Electrification Infrastructure

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) announced it is the recipient of two Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Office of Transit’s Workforce Mobility Partnership Program Awards (OWMP) totaling $2.7 million. The awards will fund both a regional transit study focused on transporting workers to and from the City of Dublin area and the new Intel development in Licking County, as well as the continued expansion of COTA’s electric vehicle (EV) charging program at the COTA Mobility Center at Rickenbacker. In addition to the ODOT funding, COTA will provide an additional $675,000 in support for the two programs and will partner with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and the local municipalities to ensure the best connections.

“The Central Ohio region is booming with economic opportunity, and part of COTA’s responsibility as a public transit agency is to provide our residents with equal access to these new jobs and careers while helping ensure that companies such as Intel and many others operating here have the workers they need to prosper,” said COTA President/CEO Joanna M. Pinkerton. “Efficient workforce movement is pivotal, and we’re excited to begin work with municipal partners along this corridor to formulate the best and most efficient options for getting workers to and from the more than 350,000 additional jobs expected by 2050 across the region.”

Specifically, the $1.26 million OWMP award will support an East-West transportation feasibility study on how to best serve the future regional workforce with connections to and from suburban job centers, including Dublin Methodist Hospital, Dublin’s Bridge Street District, Easton Town Center, Northeast Columbus job centers along Morse Road, New Albany International Business Park, including Intel. The study aims to determine transit deliverables, programmatic outputs, and cost-benefits in addressing the workforce transit needs in the northern part of Central Ohio in one of the fastest job growth areas in the state.

“Dublin is grateful for ODOT’s support in exploring future transit options, which are vital for enhancing connectivity and mobility in our city and the northern corridor,” says Megan O’Callaghan, Dublin City Manager. “As we prepare for the projected population growth in the region, collaborative traffic management is crucial. We applaud COTA’s leadership in advancing public transportation, which is essential for driving economic growth and fostering accessibility and sustainability.”

A second OWMP award of $1.44 million provides funding for the installation of six EV car chargers and four pantograph electric chargers specifically designed to quickly charge COTA’s fleet of EV buses. In support of the region’s environmental and carbon-reduction goals, COTA continues its push to be diesel-free by 2025 and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. By 2025, COTA expects to have at least 50 electric vehicles in service, including at and around the COTA Mobility Center at Rickenbacker, where these chargers will be installed. COTA broke ground in 2023 on the new $24.3 million COTA Mobility Center, aimed at boosting economic development throughout the region by connecting Central Ohio residents to job opportunities in and around Rickenbacker.

COTA received the two awards as part of a more than $100 million investment from seven separate grant programs that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks announced this month, all focused on workforce mobility, senior citizens and special needs transportation, rural transit and busing. Funding was awarded to 384 transit projects across the state and will be used for transit fleet expansion, replacement vehicles, preventative maintenance, facility upgrades, new equipment and technology and operating assistance.