June 17--The bus line that links the Arena District and Hollywood Casino Columbus on the West Side could be on the chopping block.
The Central Ohio Transit Authority is considering eliminating the No. 222 "night owl" line because of low ridership.
The route has run on Fridays and Saturdays, primarily along W. Broad Street with a loop around the Arena District, since October 2012. It has eight stops and runs in the evening and late at night, with departures into the early morning. But the passengers and employees needed to justify the route haven't materialized.
"There have been very few customers using that route," said casino spokesman Bob Tenenbaum. "We did, however, check with our employees to see whether or not there would be an impact, and it appears there's virtually no impact at all."
Last year, COTA officials were preaching patience for the lagging casino line. Ridership on a similar line along High Street through the Short North started slowly in 2009 but eventually increased. The route eventually was extended to German Village.
The No. 222, though, hasn't seen a similar bump. COTA spokesman Marty Stutz said the bus has carried as few as three or four passengers during some late-night trips.
The casino wouldn't be without bus service. The No. 10 line will continue to stop at the casino, but it doesn't run as late. The last No. 10 bus leaves Downtown at midnight on Friday and Saturday. The No. 222 runs as late as 2:30 a.m.
The change isn't final, though. COTA is analyzing the cut as part of its larger package of service changes that are to take effect on Sept. 1.
COTA makes service changes on the first Monday in January, May and September.
The package of possible changes includes tweaking the No. 2 line on N. High and E. Main streets and adding a park-and-ride facility in New Albany.
Stutz said COTA will look more closely at ridership data on the casino line and other bus routes that could be affected in September, and it will consider input from two public hearings. The second hearing is scheduled for noon today at COTA headquarters, 33 N. High St.
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