ODOT Civil Rights Symposium Selects COTA Transit System of the Year During Annual Conference

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) selected the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) Transit System of the Year Award this week during the 5th Annual Civil Rights Transportation Symposium at COSI. The award recognizes an outstanding transit or airport organization that connects underserved communities with affordable transportation while also providing measurable contracting opportunities to small and disadvantaged businesses.

“Since we implemented COTA’s first strategic plan in 2019, we have made it clear that diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of our mission,” said COTA’s Chief People Officer Sindy Mondesir. “This honor is especially meaningful to COTA because it shows that our state leaders are recognizing the work we are doing to bring equity to transit.”

The award recognizes COTA for strategic steps to improve EDI, including the creation of a division that provides accountability, led by COTA’s first Chief Equity Officer, Monica Jones.

“We thank ODOT for recognizing our commitment to the communities we serve, and for emphasizing the deep historical connection between transit and civil rights,” Jones said. “We will continue to work to provide all Central Ohioans with inclusive, equitable, accessible mobility that connects people to economic and social opportunity.”

In 2021, COTA enhanced its commitment to diversity and equity by:

  • Employing a team that is 65% racially diverse and creating leadership and director teams that are 68% diverse with consideration to race, gender, ethnicity and orientation;
  • Introducing an equitable fare structure that ensures no customer pays more than $4.50 per day or $62 per month and creating a digital fare payment system that provides access to more than 350 retail locations for customers;
  • Exceeding its goal by reporting a 19.1% Disadvantaged Business Enterprise participation on federally assisted projects;
  • Assisting Columbus City Schools in helping students get back in the classroom by providing supplemental transportation;
  • Providing transportation access to COVID vaccine clinics at no cost to customers in underserved communities;
  • Receiving nation recognition by for the second straight year among the Best Companies for Women to Advance; and
  • Receiving the prestigious HIRE Vets Gold Medallion Award by the U.S. Department of Labor.

To learn more about COTA’s progress to improve equity, diversity and inclusion in its employment and mobility practices, you can read our 2021 Annual Report.