If you want to know what community looks like, ride COTA
During winter months, I like to change around my schedule to keep things from feeling too monotonous. That way, the cold, bleak and cloudy days have something more to them.
Enter our public transit system. Sure, any form of mass transit has room to improve, but COTA has been growing and working toward some big improvements like CMAX Bus Rapid Transit, new fareboxes and CPASS, a downtown employee program debuting this summer.
It had been several months since I last took the bus, and I knew only good things would result by connecting to my community a little more.
It was an 8-minute walk to my stop. After waiting only a couple of minutes, I met the first of several new friends I would encounter that day. Out of the blue, she started telling me how she needed to cancel an appointment. She just got a new job and was so busy and happy about it that she had forgotten to adjust the rest of her schedule. We talked about the healthy options at the restaurant where she works. She might have thought I was a new rider because she explained to me how after we passed the main Ohio State University campus stop, the the bus would be less crowded and we’d have a place to sit down. I appreciated her thoughtfulness. Although I’m not a new rider, I was new to riding that route during the morning rush.
If you want to know the kindness of our community, ride COTA.
That same ride, I watched an older woman board the bus who didn’t have enough fare, and someone else helped her out and made sure she was able to board. This compassion and generosity truly set the tone for my entire day. That afternoon on my way home, a driver was giving directions as a woman exited the bus. They realized she was going the wrong direction, stopped the bus, blew the horn, opened the doors and let the woman know she need to go the other direction.
If you want to see the generosity of our community, ride COTA.
The unfortunate side of my adventures: I get car sick. I’ve heard how people check their morning emails on the bus on their way to work. I watched several people work away with their computers on their laps; I really, really tried. I’m jealous and wish things were different! I got as far as checking my Slack alerts for work and opening my email inbox from my phone before the dizzies set in and I had to shut off my screen. Let’s face it: I stare at a screen all day, so I’m genuinely not mad about spending my ride noticing other people sharing the bus with me, or watching the city pass by and reminiscing about my childhood spent downtown with family and friends. (Anyone else miss The Coffee Table and Curio-A-Go-Go?)
I could go on with how I showed up early to all my meetings, how good it felt to start and end my day with a walk, and how riding public transit made me feel slightly cooler, but really, just see for yourself. Because if you want to make memories in our community, ride COTA.
Andi Atwood is an employee of Geben Communication, a partner of COTA. Although once dependent on COTA her first year of living downtown, she realizes her privilege in now having the choice to ride public transit and having accessible COTA stops close to home.