Actually two of the “new” express routes are just existing reverse commute trips being renumbered, presumably to reduce confusion for riders. You can read more about it in the official news release below.
COLUMBUS – The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) plans to add three new express lines to its fixed-route bus service as part of service changes scheduled for implementation on Sept. 1, 2008. The new lines are the #50 Rickenbacker Express, #59 Dublin-Metro Express, and the #68 Hilliard-Westbelt Express.
The additional lines are among service changes impacting 16 local, express and crosstown lines. Most of the scheduled changes are intended to modify travel times for service reliability, improve frequency of service, extend the span of service, and realign service. The new lines bring the total number of fixed-route bus lines operated by COTA to 56.
Two public meetings are planned this week to present the scheduled changes and gain public input. One meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 5, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Rhodes State Office Tower’s Lobby Hearing Room, 30 E. Broad St., Columbus (43215). A second public meeting will be held Thursday, Aug. 7, from 6 to 7 p.m. at COTA’s Linden Transit Center, 1390 Cleveland Avenue, Columbus (43211).
The #50 Rickenbacker Express will serve the Rickenbacker Area Industrial Parks. This new service is being implemented in response to requests from employers and employees of the industrial area, which encompasses 38 million square feet of development, numerous industrial parks and more than 130 companies.
“COTA is pleased to extend bus service to the Rickenbacker Area Industrial Parks, a vital link in the economic vitality of the central Ohio region,” Bill Lhota, COTA President/CEO commented. “To assist area companies and help residents seeking relief from pain at the gas pump, COTA intends to provide more employees with safe and reliable alternative transportation to and from work.”
The #50 Rickenbacker Express will run weekdays between downtown and the Rickenbacker Area Industrial Parks. Outbound alignment will begin at 5:53 a.m. at High and Long streets, ending at Groveport Road at 6:35 a.m. The after-work inbound alignment will begin at Alum Creek Drive and Rohr Road at 4:30 p.m., ending at Wall Street at 5:17 p.m. The Rickenbacker Express will make 10 bus stops on streets in the industrial area, from Alum Creek Drive to Groveport Road.
COTA also is adding the #59 Dublin-Metro Express and the #68 Hilliard-Westbelt Express. Both new express lines are being added for customer convenience. The #59 is the reverse commute of the #58 Dublin Express and the #68 is the reverse commute of the #67 E. Hilliard Express. Times and alignments have not changed.
Also included in the September service changes is notification that the seasonal service on the #98 to the Columbus Zoo is ending for the year. Saturday service concludes Aug. 30, Sunday service on Aug. 31 and weekday service on Sept. 1.
COTA began a service expansion program in 2007 to increase service hours by 60,000 a year. Service changes are implemented three times a year, in January, May and September.
COTA officials will present all of the scheduled service changes, including the new lines, at both public meetings and answer questions from the audience. A brochure detailing the service changes will be available at each meeting and on COTA’s website: http://www.cota.com. Customers may also call 228-1776 to speak to a customer service representative.
#50 Rickenbacker Express – This seems like a good route, just 22 minutes from High & Broad to the beginning of the Rickenbacker area and 29 minutes back in the evening, with a 12 (AM) to 15 minute (PM) loop around the area. It’s only one trip a day in each direction, but maybe it will become popular and more service will be added.
#58 Dublin Express – #59 Dublin Metro Express – It’s a little strange that one route is being split into two numbers by traditional commute and reverse commute. I am speculating that it’s because both inbound and outbound trips serve the same stops when diverting into places like Metro Center, Ashland Chemical, and the Dublin Park & Ride. I can see how this would confuse riders, who would end up constantly asking the driver where the bus is going. This should clear that up.
Numbering aside, the #58 route still seems odd to me (the #59 is fine). It begins at Frantz & Ballymeade, spends 18 to 21 minutes (varies by time of trip) going north to the Dublin Park & Ride near SR-161, just to turn south and spend another 27 to 36 minutes to get to the north edge of downtown. That’s a total trip time of 45 to 57 minutes from the beginning of the line to the north edge of downtown and 52 to 67 minutes to the City Center Terminal. That is a whole lot longer than the roughly 20 minutes it would take to drive downtown from Frantz & Ballymead, and not that different than the #18 local bus. I thought “express” implied faster than “local?” I wonder how many people traveling to downtown actually get on the bus on Frantz Road? Would you spend 18+ minutes on out of the way travel to Dublin when you could have driven to work in that same time? I wouldn’t, and I like transit a lot more than most people. Maybe those riders aren’t going downtown though? Maybe they’re just going to jobs near Tuttle and Dublin? Makes me wish I could get my hands on COTA’s ridership and automatic passenger count (APC) data. I could have some fun analyzing that.
#67 East Hilliard Express – #68 Hilliard Westbelt Express – I think the renumbering is a big improvement here. Look at the route maps for the original #67 compared to the new #67 and new #68. I can actually tell how it works now without Google’s help. No new trips, but a simplification nonetheless.
The other September service changes include:
- #1 Cleveland Ave and Livingston Ave – More frequent service
- #3 Northwest Blvd – More frequent mid-day and evening service
- #3 Mound St – More frequent service and extension to Georgesville Square. Divert from Town Street bridge to Broad Street.
- #6 Mt. Vernon – Will begin serving the new VA Clinic at James Rd & Allegheny in mid-October instead of existing VA Clinic on Leonard.
- #6 Sullivant – Divert from Town Street bridge to Broad Street.
- #15 Grove City – More frequent service. Divert from Town Street bridge to Broad Street.
- #38 Northeast Express – Realigning route from Cleveland Avenue to I-670, saving 5 to 7 minutes end-to-end in the morning, but somehow not reducing scheduled travel times in the evening. Easton Transit Center will also be served now.
- #54 London-Groveport Express – Using Greenlawn and South High instead of Town Street.
- #92 Stelzer – Will begin serving the new VA Clinic at James Rd & Allegheny in mid-October. Less frequent service.
- #98 Zoo Bus – Discontinued for the season on September 1.