How to Pay to Ride COTA
COTA offers a wide array of services to its customers, and we make paying for transportation fast, affordable and easy by accepting cash and other forms of payments, as well as reduced fare options for certain individuals and groups.
- Standard: operates throughout the day between 15 and 30 minutes apart
- Frequent: operates throughout the day every 15 minutes or faster
- Rush Hour: operates Monday through Friday from 6:30-9 a.m. and 3-6:00 p.m.
Single Trip Fare Rates | Pass Rates | Reduced Rates | Senior Rates | Student Rates | OSU Transit | Company Rates | Refund Policy
Single Trip Fare Rates
A single trip fare is a one-way trip paid with cash or a valid trip ticket. Operators carry no cash, so you’ll want to have exact fare, a trip ticket or valid pass to ride.
|Regular Fares||Reduced Rate Fares**|
|*Free transfers are available upon request and are valid for up to two hours.|
|**Reduced rate fare discounts are available for qualifying customers. Learn more.|
|Standard and Frequent||$2.00||$1.00|
|Children Ages 5 – 12||$1.00||$1.00|
|Children Ages 4 and Under||Free||Free|
|With ADA Card||Free||Free|
With a pass, you can take unlimited trips onboard COTA buses for the duration of the pass. Day passes may be purchased in advance or onboard the vehicle. A 31-Day Pass must be purchased in advance. For places to buy tickets or passes, view our Where to Buy list.
|Day Pass||31-Day Pass|
|Standard, Frequent and Rush Hour||$4.50||$62.00|
(Pass purchased in advance with a Senior or Key ID, or children between the ages of 5 and 12. Children ages 4 and under ride for no charge.)
Reduced Fare Rate Details
Customers who qualify for a discount can ride COTA’s fixed-route service at half the cost of regular fare. Customers must present the COTA ID when boarding the bus to receive the discount.
To receive a COTA discount ID, customers must:
- Apply and get your discount ID card at the COTA Pass Sales Office, Monday-Friday, 9:00am-4:00pm.
- Buy your Discount Passes at the Pass Sales Office or a participating pass outlet.
- Ride the bus with your discount ID AND Discount Pass or reduced fare.
Persons eligible for half-price fares with the COTA Senior and Key ID cards include:
- People 65 years of age or older. A Senior ID is valid for three years and requires only a photo ID with your birth date. Learn more about the Senior ID.
- Persons with disabilities who are, according to Federal and State law, “unable without special facilities or special planning or design to utilize public transportation facilities and services effectively.” [49 USC 1608 (c)(4), Section 99206.5, CA PUC]. Learn more about accessibility for disabled riders.
- Medicare card holders will receive a Key ID when they present their Medicare card and a photo ID. The Key ID is valid for two years. To apply get the reduced fare application.
- Any qualified veteran will receive a Key ID. Veterans who hold a disability rating for aid and attendance, or a service-connected disability with a rating level of 80 percent or higher are eligible for a Key ID. The discount card is valid for two years. To learn more, read the discount fare brochure.
Seniors Ride for Reduced Rates
If you are 65 years and older, you can get half-price fares on fixed-route service. All you need is a Reduced Fare Senior ID Card, which you can present when boarding the bus. Senior Riders also enjoy:
- Buses lower to the curb that make boarding easy
- Free travel for any service animal
- Ramps that accommodate wheelchairs and mobility devices
- Priority seating at the front of the bus
Visit the COTA Pass Sales office at 33 N. High Street to get a Reduced Fare Senior ID Card. All you need is a photo ID with your birth date. COTA makes Reduced Fare Senior ID Cards from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Do you need a bit more help getting around?
COTA offers a variety of Mobility Services options.
Students Can Get Going for Less
Don’t miss everything that Columbus has to offer. With COTA, it’s easy and safe to get to an internship, run errands or enjoy a wide range of entertainment. Here’s how COTA can connect you.
|The Ohio State University||Unlimited access to COTA’s entire bus system just by swiping your BuckID when boarding. Open to undergraduate, graduate and professional students.||Semester fee of $13.50 (included in tuition for unlimited bus rides. Students must be enrolled for the semester to receive this rate). Ridership privileges start five days before the start of the semester and continue until the first day of class the following semester.
OSU students who aren’t enrolled for the semester may purchase an opt-in pass good for unlimited rides for $62.
|Capital University||Unlimited access to COTA’s bus system by swiping your student ID when boarding. Open to all enrolled students.||No extra fees required|
|Columbus College of Art and Design||Unlimited access to COTA’s entire bus system by swiping your student ID when boarding.||No extra fees required|
The Ohio State University Options
OSU Students Have Another Way to Get Around
You don’t have to walk from one end of campus to the other. COTA can help you get around, whether you’re headed from the Gateway to the Wex or from Lane to Lennox. If you’re a current undergraduate, graduate or professional student, all you need is your BuckID to get around when school is in session. View the Ohio State academic calendar.
Are you sticking around the city when you’re not enrolled in classes? Then consider picking up a COTA opt-in pass. It’s good for unlimited rides for one term per calendar year.
Passes go on sale in March at the COTA Pass Sales Office (33 N. High St.) for $62 and are good for the entire academic term. To qualify, you must bring your BuckID and have been enrolled in the previous semester. COTA will use Ohio State University enrollment data to determine your eligibility.
*Student IDs that are swiped prior to paying the fee are put on an inactive list and will experience a two business-day delay in activation as a result of re-validating the ID.
Faculty and Staff Get Reduced Fares, Too
Ohio State faculty and staff can use pre-tax funds to enjoy a discounted monthly rate for all COTA routes. Just use the Employee Self Service via Ohio State to enroll in a pre-tax payroll deduction program to save $4 per month. Then get your brand new BuckID. You can also purchase Day Passes at select OSU locations. View directions for starting and stopping the COTA deduction.
CABS Connects you to COTA
It’s easy to ride CABS through campus to connect to COTA bus routes. Once you’re connected to a COTA bus, your options are virtually limitless.
Lines Around Campus
Line 1 can take you to Riverside Methodist Hospital and to shopping and dining options along Olentangy River Road and Kenny and Bethel roads to the west. Or, you can take it south along High Street through the Short North, Downtown Columbus , German Village and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Line 2 runs along High Street and can connect you with eclectic neighborhoods such as the Short North, Downtown Columbus, Clintonville and Bexley.
Take the 102 north along High Street from select stops to points north of Clintonville such as Graceland Shopping Center, charming historic downtown Worthington with its bustling Saturday morning farmers’ market during the growing season and Polaris Fashion Place. The 102 is a limited-service line, meaning it picks up and drops off passengers only at select stops so it can travel to its endpoint destination faster.
From Summit Street a few blocks east of Ohio State’s campus, take Line 4 to up-and-coming Italian Village, the Short North, Downtown Columbus and along Indianola in Clintonville to the north.
Take Line 8 south along Neil Avenue to the Arena District and Columbus Clippers and Blue Jackets games. It then travels through the east side of Downtown Columbus near Columbus State Community College, the Columbus College of Art & Design and the Columbus Museum of Art. Line 8 buses then swing back to the west, passing Columbus Commons before traveling south through Merion Village, Hungarian Village and points south.
Line 22 serves destinations such as Rickenbacker Airport and Grandview Yard.
Line 31 connects campus with the popular Grandview Heights area to the west and the mega-shopping destination Easton Town Center to the east.
Let Us Help Your Employees Go Places
Your company can make it easier for employees to get to and from work. Just join in the COTA employer pass program. It’s as simple as this:
- Figure out how many passes you need per month or quarter.
- Sell or give the passes (that we deliver) to your employees.
- You pay only for the passes sold or given out.
- We pick up any unused passes.
Do you need short-term passes? COTA 7-day passes are great for conventioneers, out-of-town professionals, tourists, and senior and youth groups. At just $25 each, a 7-day pass costs less than renting a car, catching a shuttle and even paying for taxis or ride sharing services. Plus, one pass is good for unlimited rides on all COTA routes (please note that Rush Hour trips require an additional $0.75 charge).
Passes are available at the COTA Pass Sales Office or Ticket Vending Machine (33 North High St.) or at participating Kroger and Giant Eagle stores. To find out more about how to purchase 7-day passes in bulk, contact COTA Customer Service at 614-228-1776.
Is your office in the Downtown Columbus area? If you’re located in one of the buildings in the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District, you may be eligible for C-pass.
You can check with your Human Resource department to see if your company offers a pre-tax payroll deduction for COTA passes. Learn more.
IRS Regulation 132 offers substantial dollar savings to transit riders on their daily commute costs. These savings come from federal, state and FICA taxes that are not accessed on transit costs when paid by employees on a pre-tax basis. The IRS establishes employers as the gatekeeper for this federally-approved program. Employers must deduct the cost of the pass each month from the employee’s paycheck.
Refund Policy and Procedures
All sales are final. No refunds will be provided for any passes (paper and/or electronic) or stored value remaining on a COTA account (mobile/Smartcard).
Refunds requests due to the October 2021 change in fare policy
In conjunction with the implementation of the new fare management system, Masabi, COTA updated its fare structure as follows:
- Elimination of the upcharge on the rush hour routes (applies to all customers)
- Modify transfer to allow for two-hour accessibility (no one-way restriction) (applies toall customers)
- Modification to the definition of “Children” for the purposes of determining discounteligibility (applies to all customers)
- Implementation of fare capping (applies to all Masabi account-based system users)
Elimination of the upcharge on the rush hour route is the only change that will result in customers having potentially “overpaid” for their pass. This applies to customers that purchased 31-day express passes prior to October 17, 2021 (at which point 31-day express passes stopped being sold). In these instances, CEC representatives will provide a complementary 7-day pass to all customers the present a 31-day express pass at the CEC (valued at $25.00). Since the revenue has already been recognized by COTA, there are no actions that need to be taken by CEC representatives in the POS system.