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9/28/2007   1:43am
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1970s BusIn 1971 when the local governments of Bexley, Columbus, Gahanna, Grandview Heights, Grove City, Hilliard, Reynoldsburg, Upper Arlington, Westerville, Whitehall, Worthington and Franklin County, threatened by the loss of bus service from the privately owned Columbus Transit Company (CTC), came together to form the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). COTA began providing service in Franklin County on January 1, 1974.

A 13-member board of trustees oversees the transit system and appoints the president/CEO to manage the day-to-day operations of the authority. In November 1999, Franklin County voters approved a 0.25 percent permanent sales tax for COTA – the first time for permanent funding in COTA history.

In 2005, COTA provided approximately 49,000 weekday bus rides and between 3,000 to 3,600 weekly rides on Project Mainstream, COTA’s service for people with disabilities who can’t use fixed-route service. With a fleet of 234 buses, COTA travels throughout central Ohio on 53 routes, with 4,214 bus stops, 380 bus shelters, 24 park & ride locations, and over 1 million calls annually to the customer information center.

Over the years, public transit in central Ohio has seen many changes including:

• Introducing services for people with disabilities including ADA paratransit service on Project Mainstream, accessible buses on fixed routes and discounted passes.

• Creating an advertising program that incorporates advertisements that cover an entire bus.

• Implementing programs to help people get to and from work and help riders save money.

The importance of public transportation in central Ohio has never been more imperative. Traffic congestion has become the #1 issue on the minds of central Ohio residents – and the situation is only going to get worse. Fifty-five new people call central Ohio home every day; 48 of them bring cars with them. By 2020, that means 400,000 more people trying to get around on the roadways. COTA is a critical tool in the fight against traffic congestion and air pollution in central Ohio.

With the help of local, regional and national civic and government representatives, the central Ohio community, and various business groups, COTA is developing a Long-Range Transit Plan to meet the current and future transit needs of central Ohio.

As we move through the 21st century, COTA will continue to address central Ohio’s mobility needs, help keep people on the move and maintain the quality of life, today and into the future.

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