COTA Launches COTA//Plus to Provide More Access to Jobs, Health Care & Education in Westerville
The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) has launched a new COTA//Plus service, bringing on-demand microtransit to Westerville.
COTA//Plus is an app-based rideshare that operates either as a point-to-point service or as a connection to or from a COTA transit line. Customers in Westerville can use COTA//Plus to travel in the 16-square-mile defined zone, or use the service to connect to COTA Lines 102 and CMAX.
COTA//Plus provides first-last mile connections for customers, connecting them to job centers, hospitals, educational institutions, and critical shopping areas including: Uptown District, Otterbein University, Ohio Health Westerville, Mt. Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital, Polaris, Top Golf, IKEA, Columbus State Community College Westerville, Westar businesses and Worthington Industries.
Customers can book trips on their smartphone through the COTA//Plus app. If they download the app, they must register as a user. After booking a trip, a COTA//Plus vehicle will arrive within 15 minutes to take them to their destination. The trip must begin and end within the defined zone in Westerville. Customers can also book COTA//Plus trips by calling (614) 308-4400.
“As the region’s mobility solutions provider, COTA works every day to develop mobility options that meet the needs of our communities and connect customers to economic and social prosperity,” said COTA President/CEO Joanna M. Pinkerton. “We are proud to expand COTA//Plus to Westerville, to help the community expand mobility options and provide freedom and flexibility for residents of all ages to access jobs, education, health care, food, shopping, recreation and social events in a safe and secure way.”
COTA//Plus Westerville is funded through partnerships that include the City of Westerville, Otterbein University and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.
“COTA//Plus is the realization of one of Westerville’s key strategies to improve mobility and accessibility in our community,” said David Collinsworth, Westerville City Manager. “We’ve planned and studied efficient and affordable ways to offer public transportation services and believe this COTA//Plus pilot program is the right fit for us. We already have a strong COTA presence in Westerville with the CMAX line to downtown, and stops along our commercial routes. We are excited to take this next step together and we encourage residents, students and our workforce to use it for travel and commuting.”
All COTA//Plus operators are COTA employees, who receive best-in-class training and are subject to background checks upon hiring.
COTA//Plus Westerville operates 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and service hours can expand to accommodate special public events. COTA can comfortably seat six passengers, but will transport two customers at a time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Exceptions are made for families who travel together. All COTA//Plus transit vehicles are sanitized several times a day and customers and operators are required to wear masks while on board.
This is the third COTA//Plus service launched in Central Ohio in 13 months. COTA//Plus Grove City launched in July 2019 as a partnership with the City of Grove City. COTA also launched an emergency on-demand service during the COVID-19 pandemic, serving parts of Northeast Columbus, Westerville, Gahanna and New Albany.