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'Circulator' COTA routes proposed for downtown area

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Central Ohio Transit Authority is looking to roll out additional bus services in the downtown area.

COTA is proposing high-frequency "circulators," which are buses that would follow a route southbound on High Street, westbound on Sycamore Street, northbound on Front Street and eastbound on Buttles Avenue.

Marty Stutz, spokesman for the transit authority, said the plan is to launch the circulator in May, which would give transportation officials time to plan and introduce new buses. The vehicles are built in winter as part of ongoing expansion and replacement program.

"It's a little more complicated of a service change and expansion than we do three times a year," he said. "And we do want to have some time for public comment public involvement."

According to the plan, which includes 20 stops along the route, the new 30-foot-long buses would stop every 10 to 15 minutes between 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

"We often hear from people who live in the neighborhoods adjacent to downtown and in the central business district that our local service is a little too complicated for those who want to make short hops from one destination to another in downtown Columbus," Stutz said.

Fees have not been established.

"Reduced or free fares are certainly on the table," he said.

At a public meeting Aug. 28, one of four held last week, residents voiced overall support for the plan but asked transit officials to consider expanding the circulator route east and increasing the frequency of stops to every five to eight minutes.

Shiloh Todorov, director of the German Village Society, said she was disappointed the route didn't travel down South Third Street along the neighborhood's main corridor.

"I think that little adjustment over three blocks would both vastly improve ridership out of our neighborhood as well as market us to those who want to visit the village," Todorov said.

Likewise, Ricky Day, who owns property in downtown and the Short North, said he would like to see the boundaries extend to Seventh Avenue.

"In looking at the map, it only captures about the first third of the Short North," said Day, a board member of the Short North Alliance.

Mike McCann, project manager with COTA, told the audience the transit authority would balance expansion considerations with available financial resources.

"We see this as a first starting point," McCann said.

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