As the demand for mobility options in our community increases, COTA is responding. Today, our Board of Trustees did just that by adopting the 2020 COTA proposed budget, a significant investment in mobility solutions that supports our vision to Move Every Life Forward.
- Improvement of frequency to relieve overcrowding on the CMAX rapid transit line between downtown Columbus and Westerville.
- Increased frequency to relieve weekday overcrowding on Line 2 between North High Street and East Main Street.
- Increased frequency to relieve weekday and weekend overcrowding on Line 9 between West Mound Street and Brentnell Avenue.
- Additional vehicles to improve on-time weekend performance of Line 32 on North Broadway.
- Additional vehicles to improve on-time performance and increase frequency of Line 102 between Polaris Parkway and North High Street.
The need to invest more resources in high ridership lines is a good thing. It means people are thinking differently about how they move, and tells us that new service options like the CMAX bus rapid transit (where ridership is up an astounding 26%!) are solutions to further implement as corridors develop. We also are focused on improving our customer experience; and we heard you – you will begin to see relief on the crowded portions of the system beginning next year.
This new budget also allows us to respond to the demand for additional microtransit service in Central Ohio. We will expand COTA Plus on-demand microtransit in Grove City to cover the entire city, making Grove City the first community in Ohio to have a first/last mile public transit solution that supports economic development and workforce accessibility. The early success in Grove City has other communities knocking on our door, and this budget will allow us to expand to at least three more neighborhoods/communities in 2020.
We are also investing in our people – Team COTA – in a big way. We are pleased that this budget will increase the minimum wage at COTA to $15 an hour. Attracting and retaining talent to COTA is crucial to maintaining the momentum we have created and we believe increasing the minimum starting wage is essential to developing a strong and effective workforce. We join several other Central Ohio entities whom have taken a position that livable wages are a vital part of helping people move to social and economic prosperity.
Finally, as winter officially arrived this weekend to Central Ohio, a reminder that COTA will provide free service when Level 2 and Level 3 snow emergencies are declared. When weather is at its worst, our operators and vehicle maintenance teams are at their best, keeping you safe and warm.
We have a terrific year ahead of us in 2020, and are planning investments to make it a great decade as well. You will see announcements from us next year as our service expands, our customer amenities and benefits improve and new partnerships with employers are established to help our region become the mobility model of the nation.
Working with Team COTA to Move Every Life Forward,
Joanna M. Pinkerton
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