The COTA Board of Trustees have named COTA's 10-story administrative headquarters building at 33 N. High St. in Downtown Columbus the William J. Lhota Building in honor of COTA's retiring president/CEO.
The 80,000 square-foot building near Broad and High streets was purchased by COTA in 2008 and houses its administrative staff, bus operator check-in and pass sales functions. Lhota pursued the relocation of COTA's headquarters to the central business district in order to be at the hub of COTA's service and to demonstrate the agency's commitment to downtown. In addition, the Downtown location enables employees to ride the bus. COTA does not provide any parking for its employees downtown.
"Bill Lhota's passion for public transit in our community is evident each day to the thousands of riders who rely on transit to get to jobs, school, shopping and entertainment," said Linda Mauger, COTA board chair. "Bill has re-energized COTA and positioned the agency favorably to meet the transportation challenges of the future."
Lhota is leaving COTA after 7-1/2 years.
In late 2004, Lhota was recruited out of retirement after a senior management career at American Electric Power (AEP), and has orchestrated a dramatic turnaround of the agency. In recent years COTA has increased service, added new lines, modernized its bus fleet and renovated much of its capital facilities and infrastructure. In 2011, COTA led the nation in ridership growth among large bus transit agencies. Ridership of over 18 million passenger trips was 10 percent higher than in 2010.
The board also has named COTA's leadership development program after Lhota. The William J. Lhota Leaders of the Future Program was conceived and launched by Lhota. The program identifies potential leaders within COTA while providing training and development opportunities to candidates for advancement.