COTA tinkers with less-popular routes in Grandview, UA
By MARK DUBOVEC
Published: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 5:07 PM EST
At public meetings Jan. 18 and 25, COTA officials discussed how they are looking to simplify service on the No. 19 Arlington route while splitting the No. 84 Arlington-OSU-Lennox-Grandview route into two routes. COTA also plans to consolidate a number of stops along these routes. Implementation date for these changes is May 2.
Between 2012 and 2015, COTA plans to increase frequency during peak hours to every 30 minutes for both routes and mid-day frequency to 45 minutes for the No. 19. Current frequency is 60 minutes.
COTA official James Hutcherson said he thinks more people will opt to use the buses when frequency is improved.
COTA leaders identified poor ridership as the reason for the changes.
“When routes don’t meet the productivity standards we’ve set, we got to try to fix them,” said Mike Bradley, director of capital projects and planning at COTA.
“Our goal is at 20.55 passengers per hour.”
According to COTA documents, the No. 19 averaged 12 riders per hour from September through December 2009, 10 riders from January through April 2010, and nine riders from May through August 2010. Other local routes have been averaging 17 riders per hour.
It’s nice to see COTA looking at things quantitatively like this. I’m sure they’ve always done this, but it’s not publicized very often.
For reference, the system-wide average service efficiency was 25.12 unlinked passenger trips per hour in 2009. More service should indeed translate into more riders, but maybe not more passengers per hour since there will be a lot of service horus added during low-demand mid-day periods. Time will tell though.
Bradley also said COTA is looking to simplify the routes for passengers.
“If you pick up our timetable, it’s very difficult to read,” he said. “We do not want to confuse people.”
Yes! I mentioned here that the #19 was too complicated to show on a map. Anytime that’s true, a realignment is in order.
Route No. 19 serves neighborhoods in Grandview Heights and Upper Arlington, the Kingsdale Shopping Center and Grandview Yard. Under the proposed changes, the route would discontinue service on Northwest Boulevard just north of Goodale Boulevard and on Goodale just west of Grandview Yard’s entrance.
In Upper Arlington, a loop that includes Ridgecliff, Mountview, Nottingham and Zollinger roads and Kioka Avenue originally was set to be eliminated, but feedback from neighborhood residents convinced COTA officials to leave it in.
“We want to make it productive,” Bradley said.
“If it remains unproductive, it’ll be back on the block.”
UA resident John Hopper, who lives on Derby Road and uses the bus from the aforementioned loop, said he sees how the routes can be confusing and have low ridership but doesn’t think that’s reason to eliminate them.
“They can be complicated, but there are other ways to solve that,” Hopper said.
I agree with Mr. Hopper. There are other ways to serve the area and reduce confusion. Here’s one idea for a simple, two-way route that terminates at the Griggs Resevoir Park & Ride:
I think one of the benefits of this particular idea would be that it gives people parking at Griggs more options to get downtown. It wouldn’t be as fast as the #58 or #59 express routes, but it would give someone a way home during the middle of the day, or if they miss their bus downtown because they’re working late.
Route No. 84 would be split to service two markets: Upper Arlington and Ohio State University; and Grandview Heights, Lennox Town Center and OSU.
“We’re trying to serve too much with one route,” Bradley said. “It’s very confusing for people at Ohio State.”
The first route would travel between Kingsdale through UA to the center of the OSU campus. The second route would go through Grandview Heights to Grandview Yard to Lennox Town Center. It also would drop Grandview Avenue from its coverage.
Patrik Bowman, Grandview director of administration and financial development, said he liked the splitting of the No. 84.
“We’ve been talking to COTA a long time about Grandview Yard,” he said. “It’s ideal to hit the major destinations.”
I’m not sure the U-shaped nature of the #84 is actually the most confusing part about the route. I think the most confusing part is that the route does this from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM on weekdays:
…and this from 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM on weekdays and all day on weekends.
So if I were going to split the #84 into two routes, that is how I would do it. Nevertheless, their proposal is still an improvement.
The other problem with the #84 is the one-way loop in Grandview, which I understand COTA intends to eliminate.
My advice is that if you’re going to do a one-way loop, it needs to be small. Large one-way loops have the advantage of providing service to a wide area while costing as little as possible for the agency, but they cost passengers travel time due to the indirect travel paths. People don’t like giving up time. One of the reasons not many people ride transit in a mid-sized city like Columbus with very little congestion is that transit can’t compete with the travel time of cars. So by making people take indirect paths to their destinations, an existing competitive disadvantage for transit is made worse, and potential ridership is compromised.