COTA Plus program could expand city-wide

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By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

Grove City Council is considering legislation to help fund the expansion of the COTA Plus service.

On Jan. 21, council had its first reading on legislation to set aside over $42,000 from the general fund to expand the service city-wide.

In the summer of 2019, the city and COTA launched the on-demand micro transit program to provide the first/last mile service. The program is similar to other ride sharing services like Uber of Lyft but within a defined zone in the city. Zone one, which was launched last summer, covers Mount Carmel Grove City, businesses in South Park and along State Route 665, Mid-Ohio Foodbank and the Grove City Park and Ride.

A resident could use a mobile app or call to arrange for a COTA vehicle to pick them up either at home for a fee or from a traditional COTA bus stop for free.

“There is increased demand for greater mobility options across many of our central Ohio communities, including Grove City,” said Joanna Pinkerton, president of COTA. “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.”

COTA and the city began the program with expansion in mind.

When the micro-transit pilot program began, it cost a total of $360,000 to launch the first coverage zone. COTA and the city split the cost for the service that was scheduled to run from July 15, 2019 to July 14, 2020.

This year, COTA and city leaders were to consider launching a second coverage zone that would include the South-Western Career Academy, downtown Grove City, the village of Urbancrest and the Evans Senior Center. However, the current legislation says that for the second year of the program, the city and COTA would like to extend the service city-wide.

“COTA and Grove City have a long history of working together and successfully addressing the ever-changing transportation needs of our growing community,” said Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage.

According to the legislation, the city and COTA will share the cost equally for the expanded service.

Currently, residents and employees can travel within the designated zone from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, including service to Mount Carmel Grove City. Customers can request a ride using the COTA Plus mobile app or by calling COTA customer support at 614-308-4400, and a six-person vehicle, operated by a COTA driver, will respond and arrive within 15 minutes.

Customers who book a trip with COTA Plus will not pay additional fare if connecting to a scheduled bus route. If a customer books a trip point-to-point without using the traditional bus service, they will pay a $3 fare.

The legislation to expand the micro-transit service city-wide is scheduled to have its second reading and reading and public hearing on Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

For more information on the COTA Plus program, visit COTA.com or grovecityohio.gov.

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