Press Release8/15/2023

COTA Reports Transit Ridership Increase Ahead of Planned Service Improvements Coming This September

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) today announced an increase of almost 600,000 additional trips across all transit lines at the midyear point in 2023 compared to one year earlier. The increase in ridership comes as COTA is planning a significant restoration of some services in September as recruitment of bus operators has begun to alleviate the workforce shortage crisis.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2023, COTA has seen a ridership increase of approximately 12% on its fixed route service compared to the same period in 2022. During the first half of 2023, COTA delivered 5,215,869 passenger trips, compared to 4,665,174 in 2022.

During the same period, COTA Mainstream trips for ADA customers and senior citizens rose by almost 16%, from 125,489 to 144,864; and COTA//Plus on-demand trips increased by 52%, from 48,807 to 73,988.

“We are excited to see more customers choosing COTA again,” said COTA President/CEO Joanna M. Pinkerton. “Public transit is a vital backbone of any strong economy and as Central Ohio grows in population and jobs, customers choosing to move on the safest, most economical, and most environmentally sustainable way will help meet our communities’ goals for a safer, more equitable, cleaner future.

Meanwhile, thanks to a gradual increase in recruiting new transit operators, COTA will schedule several service improvements, beginning Sept. 4. These will include:

  • Providing an additional hour of frequent late-night service on weekdays, with frequent lines beginning their final routes at 11 p.m. – providing service until approximately midnight. Crosstown lines will also provide extended evening hours.
  • Weekday service frequency on Lines 1, 2, 10 and CMAX will increase from 30 minutes to 15 minutes before 7 a.m.
  • Weekly service frequency on Line 8 will increase to 15 minutes on the core line and 30 minutes on the branches.
  • Weekday service frequency on Lines 4, 31 and 102 will increase to 30 minutes.
  • Zoo Bus will now operate into the fall Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through October 29.
  • Line 35, which has been suspended since the pandemic, will be restored, operating every hour from Boardwalk Street and Shapter Avenue to Easton Transit Center, with express nonstop service to New Albany Park and Ride.

September service improvements begin Monday, Sept. 4. Customers can learn more about the improvements during two public information meetings scheduled for 6 p.m. on Aug. 17 and noon on Aug. 22. Information about those meetings can be found here.

“I offer my deep gratitude to all of Team COTA – especially our frontline transit operators, vehicle maintenance and street operations teams for their commitment to serving our community,” Pinkerton said. “I am also grateful to every new recruit who has chosen the profession of transit operator in the past year. They join an award-winning team of professionals who set the national standard in our industry. We are still hiring – now is a great time to choose to be a customer or an employee of COTA and help us move lives forward as our city and region grow to new heights.”

Future service improvements still depend on increasing COTA’s operator workforce. COTA is offering up to $2,500 in hiring bonuses to new operators and provides on-site CDL training. COTA operators earn competitive wages and benefits including OPERS retirement, health insurance including dental and vision, tuition reimbursement and a monthly stipend to help pay off student loans. To apply, visit COTA’s career page to learn more.