Fare Change Policy

COTA has a duty to operate in a fiscally prudent and financially sound manner. As such, periodically it will be necessary to adjust the passenger fare structure so that transit users will continue to pay a fair and reasonable portion of the total cost of providing transit service. COTA’s goal is for its annual ratio of total farebox revenues to total expenses (the “farebox ratio”) to be comparable to the national industry average for all transit systems of similar size and service levels. In an effort to gather input from the public and to inform transit users of upcoming fare changes, COTA will adhere to the following procedures:

  1. Every other year, COTA will prepare an update to a projected financial summary for the next five years that will be included in the Short Range Transit Plan (SRTP). This financial summary will indicate the timing and extent of future proposed fare changes. The need for future fare changes will be based on COTA’s existing financial condition, projected sources of local, state, federal and other non-farebox revenues, and the level of expenditures necessary to support the level of service specified in the SRTP. The SRTP will be then reviewed and discussed in the following meetings: The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) Citizen Advisory Committee; MORPC’s Transportation Advisory Committee; MORPC’s Policy Committee; COTA’s Planning Committee of the Board of Trustees; and the COTA Board of Trustees.
  2. The actual need to implement a projected fare change will be reviewed during COTA’s annual budgeting process. If a fare change is deemed necessary, the time, extent, and specific components of the change will be made an integral part of that year’s appropriations budget. The proposed annual appropriations budget will be presented to COTA’s Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Trustees for review and approval. Such meetings are open to the public for comment and discussion.
  3. At COTA’s discretion, due to emergency or unforeseen circumstances, a fare change not originally projected in the SRTP, nor included in the year’s annual appropriation budget, may be necessary. In such instances, the timing, extent and specific components of a proposed change will be presented to COTA’s Planning Committee of the Board of Trustees, COTA’s Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees, and the Board of Trustees for review and approval. Such meetings are open to the public for comment and discussion.
  4. At COTA’s discretion, a temporary fare change, intended for promotional purposes that does not permanently affect the base fare structure may be implemented. In such instances, the timing, extent and specific components of a proposed temporary change will be presented to various committees (as deemed appropriate) of COTA’s Board of Trustees, and to the Board of Trustees, for review and approval. Such meetings are open to the public for comment and discussion.
  5. COTA will hold a public meeting in an accessible downtown location to solicit public comment and discussion at least two months prior to the implementation of a fare increase. The COTA Board of Trustees and management will actively consider all public comments prior to finalizing any fare increase proposal. This consideration will include a thorough analysis of any suggested alternatives to a proposed fare increase.
  6. The following activities will take place after formal approval of a fare change, but prior to the effective date of the fare change, in order to inform users of the change:
    • The Ohio Department of Transportation will be notified of the change;
    • Press releases describing the changes will be sent to general-circulation newspapers, radio and TV stations;
    • Any other activities deemed necessary by COTA.