As part of an ongoing series of discussions with community leaders, Central Ohio Transit Authority officials will hold the first "roundtable" of 2012 for people living in the Morse and East Dublin-Granville roads area on Tuesday, March 27.

As part of an ongoing series of discussions with community leaders, Central Ohio Transit Authority officials will hold the first "roundtable" of 2012 for people living in the Morse and East Dublin-Granville roads area on Tuesday, March 27.

The meeting will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the community room of the Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center, 4340 Tamarack Blvd.

The purpose of the sessions is to "update community leaders about our current activities and solicit your ideas about COTA and public transit," according to a letter of invitation issued March 8 by president and chief executive officer W. Curtis Stitt.

"As you may know, the Central Ohio Transit Authority is in the midst of an expansion program to make transit in central Ohio more effective, efficient and relevant in meeting the needs of our residents, business owners and visitors," the letter stated. "Expansion efforts include implementing new transit service, providing longer hours of operation, providing more service frequency and investing in new technologies that will enhance the long-term viability of transit in our region."

Those interested are asked to indicate their plans to attend the March 27 meeting at the Dog Shelter and Adoption Center by contacting Jan Hawkins of the COTA staff, 308-4430 or via email, hawkinsjl@cota.com, by March 22.

The roundtable sessions began in about 2007, according to COTA vice president of communications, marketing and customer service Robert M. "Marty" Stutz. They represent an opportunity for the CEO and others involved in service planning to sit down with a wide variety of people to talk about issues, Stutz added.

He said the meetings are open to "anybody who wanted to attend, and really have a face-to-face to discussion abut what kind of things COTA had planned.

"We called them roundtables as just kind of a name that we would recognize internally as an event where a number of key COTA officials would be reaching out to key representatives of these communities," he added

The meetings begin with a brief presentation - "Kind of a COTA 101, you might call it," Stutz said.

After that comes information abouto any service changes that might affect the immediate area, followed by questions and answers.

"They're very valuable," Stutz said of the roundtables. "Absolutely these have an impact on the kinds of services we offer and the amount."

The one scheduled for Northland area leaders on March 27 comes as COTA officials are working on a "Northeast Corridor Alternatives Analysis" involving ways of improving service along the busy Cleveland Avenue corridor. Meetings were held in November and February to gather input from residents in the Northland area on the various options under review.

"Currently, weekday passenger trips along Cleveland Avenue are 9 percent above 2010 levels, with standing loads occurring daily on many trips," according to a website devoted to the project. "In 2010, COTA successfully applied for a Federal Transit Administration grant to study a variety of transportation alternatives to improve transit in the corridor. This alternatives analysis study is the first step to securing federal funding to implement improvements. COTA's efforts in this project are being coordinated with initiatives by the city of Columbus, Franklin County, and other agencies, each designed to help enhance the area by providing quality and affordable housing, promoting economic development opportunities, and improving mobility options."