Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Earlier today, leadership of the Central Ohio Transit Authority had the honor of being presented with the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award at the American Public Transportation System’s Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
This distinction is the result of the ingenuity, hard work and service-oriented attitudes of our 1,150 employees. And that positive momentum doesn’t stop with this award.
COTA maintains a fleet of 322 buses, almost 1 million square feet of facilities and 26 Park & Rides – but employees, above all else, are our most valuable asset. They earned this award, and our community supported their work to make sure mobility is not a barrier to our collective prosperity.
COTA’s team of operators, IT experts, vehicle maintenance technicians, transit planners, engineers, customer service representatives, marketing and legal professionals, finance and procurement specialists, human resources team members and more are central to everything we do now and in the future.
Their efforts have resulted in ground-breaking partnerships like C-pass, the downtown employee bus program that as of Sept. 21 had attracted nearly 11,000 people to sign up for unlimited COTA bus access. The vision of our partners at Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission in crafting a program under which property owners tax themselves to pay for transit has a clear business case: Focusing resources on employee access and mobility and enhancing downtown property values by investing in movement instead of parking lots.
Implementing C-pass, which launched June 1, brought out the best in the COTA team. Representatives from our marketing/communications and IT departments continue to regularly visit downtown employers to go over the basics of riding COTA. Our customer service team fielded calls during the early summer height of C-pass signups. Operators have patiently helped new riders verify their credentials to ride the bus. Our creative team produced an extensive advertising campaign to get the word out about how to join the movement. Our finance team worked on the details of how the program would be funded. And our information technology team provided the technical support to make it all happen.
We did C-pass as a team, collaborating with multiple other agencies, showing our commitment to providing outstanding customer service. Because that’s how we do things at COTA.
Stay tuned. The momentum will continue because of our incredible COTA team members!
Joanna M. Pinkerton
Mobility in the Community
Co-founder and president, EmpowerBus
Co-founder: Aslyne Rodriguez
Mission: To strengthen the roads to social mobility by providing dignified, reliable and on-time transportation to and from employment, education and health care opportunities. We are a social enterprise that uses clustering and strategic partnerships to address the transportation barriers that are facing under-resourced communities in Ohio.
How do you envision the mobility of the future? I envision the mobility of the future centered around two primary pillars: Shared mobility and partnerships. I believe organizations like EmpowerBus and COTA are distinctively positioned to be key players in how the mobility of the future is defined and implemented.
What role does affordable, reliable, efficient transportation play in the prosperity of communities? A 2015 Harvard study revealed that the lack of affordable, reliable and efficient transportation to work, health care and education in low- to moderate-income communities in the U.S. is one of the primary factors holding citizens back from improving their social mobility. Social mobility is the movement of individuals, families, households or other categories of people within or between socioeconmic strata in a society.
A 2015 University of Toronto study identified Columbus as the second-most economically segregated city in the U.S. (behind Austin, Texas). Knowing this information really enforces the need for numerous multimodal transportation options for our community. Ensuring that we make these options affordable, reliable and efficient for all of the communities in Central Ohio is always top of mind for us at EmpowerBus.
What is the greatest challenge these communities face? The Central Ohio community is in a unique and exciting position where we are growing and innovating at an incredible rate. The greatest challenge I see for our community is ensuring that all of the great innovation we create is designed so our entire community is benefiting from it.