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Fare Change Policy

Fare Change Policy

COTA has a duty to operate in a fiscally prudent and financially sound manner. As such, periodically it will be necessary to adjust the passenger fare structure so that transit users will continue to pay a fair and reasonable portion of the total cost of providing transit service.

Proposed January 2018 Fare Adjustments

Four public meetings will take place regarding proposed Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) fare adjustments which would be effective Monday, January 1, 2018:

  • Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. (noon)
  • Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. (noon)
  • Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.

Meetings will be held in the William G. Porter Boardroom of the William J. Lhota Building (33 N. High St. Columbus, Ohio 43215).

Meeting Presentation Deck: Slideshare, PDF, PowerPoint.

COTA evaluates changes to the fare structure every three years. Considerations include farebox recovery ratios, affordability, inflation and comparable fares in other cities. COTA values and considers all public input regarding fare policies and proposals.

Fare Change Policy

COTA’s goal is for its annual ratio of total farebox revenues to total expenses (the “farebox ratio”) to be comparable to the national industry average for all transit systems of similar size and service levels.

  • Every other year, COTA will prepare an update to a projected financial summary for the next five years that will be included in the Short Range Transit Plan (SRTP). This financial summary will indicate the timing and extent of future proposed fare changes.
  • The actual need to implement a projected fare change will be reviewed during COTA’s annual budgeting process.
  • COTA will hold a public meeting in an accessible downtown location to solicit public comment and discussion at least two months prior to the implementation of a fare increase.
  • The COTA Board of Trustees and management will actively consider all public comments prior to finalizing any fare increase proposal. This consideration will include a thorough analysis of any suggested alternatives to a proposed fare increase.

The following activities will take place after formal approval of a fare change, but prior to the effective date of the fare change, in order to inform users of the change:

  • The Ohio Department of Transportation will be notified of the change;
  • Press releases describing the changes will be sent to general-circulation newspapers, radio and TV stations;
  • Any other activities deemed necessary by COTA

Fare Equity Analysis Policy

(as adopted by the Board of Trustees on 6/26/13)

  • The FTA requires COTA to evaluate the effects of fare changes on minority populations and low-income populations.
  • A minority population is any readily identifiable group of minority persons (persons identified by race, color, or national origin) who live in geographic proximity.
  • A low-income population is any readily identifiable group of households who live in geographic proximity and whose median household income is at or below 150% of the Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines.
  • For proposed changes that would increase or decrease the fares on the entire system, or on certain transit modes, or by fare payment type or fare media, COTA shall analyze any available information generated from ridership surveys indicating whether minority and/or low-income riders are disproportionately more likely to use the mode of service, payment type, or payment media that would be subject to the fare change.
  • COTA shall then—

(i) Determine the number and percent of users of each fare media being      changed;

(ii) Review fares before the change and after the change;

(iii) Compare the percentage differences for each particular fare media between minority users and overall users; and

(iv) Compare the percentage differences for each particular fare media between low-income users and overall users.

  • Should a proposed fare change result in a disparate impact, COTA will consider modifying the proposed changes to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the disparate impact of the change.
  • Where disparate impacts are identified, COTA shall provide a meaningful opportunity for public comment on any proposed mitigation measures, including any less discriminatory alternatives that may be available.
  • If COTA chooses not to alter the proposed fare changes despite the disparate impact on minority ridership, or if COTA finds, even after the revisions, that minority riders will continue to bear a disproportionate share of the proposed fare change, COTA may implement the fare change only if:

(i) COTA has a substantial justification for the proposed change, and

(ii) COTA can show that there are no alternatives that would have a less disparate impact on minority riders but would still accomplish COTA’s legitimate program goals.

  • If at the conclusion of the analysis, COTA finds that low-income populations will bear a disproportionate burden of the proposed fare change, COTA will consider modifying the proposed changes to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the disproportionate burdens of the change, where practicable.

View Full Policy

Fare Structure

(as adopted by Board of Trustees on 11/17/2009)

  • A 20% farebox recovery ratio is hereby adopted as the appropriate ratio target to be considered by staff, along with affordability and other criteria, when recommending future fare increase.
  • The President/CEO be, and hereby is, authorized to take such further action and execute and deliver such further documents as, acting with the advice of counsel, shall be deemed necessary and appropriate to carry out the intent of this Resolution. [See above Fare Change Policy]