Upper Arlington News

COTA may cut bus route from UA to Columbus

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The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) is considering whether to eliminate the No. 19 bus route that moves passengers on weekday mornings and afternoons from Upper Arlington through Marble Cliff and Grandview to downtown Columbus.

Since February, COTA has been conducting a comprehensive review of its existing bus routes to determine "the best use of our resources to meet the needs of the community," according to Marty Stutz, a COTA spokesman.

Some routes may be eliminated or reduced while others may be added or increased, he said.

That leaves the future of the No. 19 route in limbo.

"This is just a proposal; nothing has been decided yet," Stutz said.

In the morning, as few as two people ride the bus during certain route times, although the number of riders can grow to as many as 14, according to data provided by COTA.

On a typical afternoon, ridership falls to as few as four people but can reach a peak of around 18, Stutz said.

"It's only a five-day-a-week route that runs five or six times in the morning and four to six times at the end of the day," he said.

Upper Arlington Senior Planning Officer Chad Gibson said the city is aware COTA is considering altering local bus routes, but hasn't taken a position on the matter.

He said COTA has indicated route changes could yield more, not fewer, local bus services.

"Route 19 has extremely low ridership numbers and is therefore under consideration for possible elimination," Gibson said. "That said, UA actually stands to gain more service in the aggregate, though not yet defined, due to our location and density.

"It's too early to tell what position the city will ultimately take on this. We will likely gain enhanced service as a whole, based on the discussions held thus far. This may more than outweigh any negative that may arise from the elimination of this particular route."

Although Upper Arlington city officials haven't hosted any public meetings on the possible change, Gibson said COTA has held "numerous outreach meetings" during its initial public outreach and information-gathering phase.

"First, it's important to state that this process is in its preliminary phase," he said. "Once the findings are formulated into a more concrete set of goals and action steps, we anticipate COTA inviting the public back again to review the recommendations of the transit system review process.

"One of the goals of this process is to maximize the use of COTA's existing transport resources so that the most heavily traveled routes are serviced adequately, with a focus on more population dense areas/key destinations, etc.

"In order to do that, some of the low ridership routes may need to be adjusted or eliminated."

A final decision regarding No. 19 is expected to be made in September. The route would not be eliminated until at least 2015, possibly as late as 2017, should that be the decision, Gibson said.

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