Central Ohio Transit Authority launches on-demand microtransit pilot program

July 17, 2019

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) has launched its one-year pilot program COTA Plus, which is an on-demand microtransit service offering point-to-point service at an affordable fare and connecting COTA riders to fixed route services for free.

This is an app-based rideshare service that books passengers heading in the same direction into a shared vehicle. Known in the industry as microtransit on demand, COTA Plus operates either as a point-to-point rideshare service or as a connection to or from a COTA bus line. Operators are COTA employees, who receive best-in-class training and are subject to background checks upon hiring.

“There is increased demand for greater mobility options across many of our Central Ohio communities, including Grove City,” said COTA President and CEI Joanna M. Pinkerton. “COTA Plus was designed with input from multiple stakeholders, including the city and area businesses, who have identified mobility challenges as a barrier to employment, healthcare and education. We are proud to pilot this innovative service under the unique COTA Plus brand, and to work with public and private entities in the future to solve mobility challenges.”

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 Grove City. Customers can also book COTA Plus trips calling (614) 308-4400.

 Customers who book a trip with COTA Plus will not pay additional fare if connecting to fixed-route service (COTA Lines 3 & 61). If a customer books a COTA Plus trip point-to-point without using COTA bus service, they will pay a $3 fare. All COTA Plus fare must be paid through the app. Cash will not be accept by the operator.

“COTA and Grove City have a long history of working together and successfully addressing the everchanging transportation needs of our growing community,” said Mayor Richard L. “Ike” Stage. “The COTA Plus program is an innovative and welcome pilot for our current mobility challenges, further illustrating the strength of our partnership.”

COTA Plus is a partnership between Grove City and COTA, with the option to expand service in the future, as needed. Grove City is an ideal location for this pilot project because of its expanding community. The defined zone will connect fixed-route riders to the Southpark Industrial Park, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank and the new Mount Carmel Grove City Hospital.

“For many of our community members, lack of transportation is a major barrier to receiving essential medical care,” said Sean McKibben, president of Mount Carmel Grove City. “We are thankful for this new partnership with COTA and are excited to offer improved access to exceptional healthcare to the Grove City community.”

 COTA Plus is powered by Via, a provider and developer of on-demand public mobility applications.

“We are thrilled to partner with our innovative partners at COTA to bring Via’s technology to the Columbus area,” said Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via. “The COTA Plus service shows how public transportation and technology can work together to make a city smarter. Grove City residents now have a comfortable, convenient, and affordable way to move around. This is truly a great example of a city embracing the future of mobility.”