The Northland Transit Center, the northern terminus of the new rapid-transit bus service along Cleveland Avenue, will debut Jan. 1, the same day that CMAX is launched.
"It was designed to make sure we had this facility at the time of the opening, which is Jan. 1," said Mike Bradley, vice president of planning and service development for the Central Ohio Transit Authority. "We're ready to go."
Located on property purchased by COTA from Meijer before the Northland store closed in late 2015, the transit center includes six bus bays with five canopies, a 60-space park-and-ride area and a building in which passengers can shelter while waiting for one of the fleet vehicles in the new, 20-percent faster service between downtown and the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and East Dublin-Granville Road.
During peak hours, the CMAX line will provide 10-minute service from the center to downtown along Cleveland Avenue, according to Bradley. This will be accomplished, he said, by permitting transponders in the dedicated buses to hold green lights longer or shorten red lights to eliminate or reduce delays at intersections.
All CMAX buses will have Wi-Fi and USB ports for people to charge their electronic devices, he said. The building at the transit center also will offer free Wi-Fi, Bradley said.
"The focus has been to be as customer-friendly as possible," he said.
The cost to ride the CMAX line, once fares kick in a week after the service starts, will be $2, the same as for regular routes, according to Lisa M. Myers, COTA's public-relations and media manager.
"We think it's going to be a great benefit to customers," she said. "Everybody at COTA's excited about the new service. We're excited to show the community what it's going to be like."
That's why rides on the bus rapid-transit line will be free the first week, leading up to a community celebration of the start of CMAX, set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, at the Linden STEM Academy, 2626 Cleveland Ave.
The free rides on CMAX run Jan. 1-7.
Security cameras will be located in all 63 new CMAX stops along the route as well as on the platform and in the building at the Northland Transit Center, Bradley said.
Myers said 33 of the new stops are decorated with works of local artists chosen by representatives of the various neighborhoods through which CMAX travels.
"When it's all done, I feel the community will be proud," Bradley said.