Central Ohio Transit Authority
|Headquarters||33 N. High St,
|Service area||Franklin County and portions of Delaware, Fairfield, Union county and Licking Counties|
|Service type||bus service|
|Fuel type||Diesel, Diesel-electric hybrid, compressed natural gas (CNG)|
|Chief executive||W. Curtis Stitt|
The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) is a public sector transit agency serving Franklin County and the rest of the central Ohio area, which includes Columbus, as well as Bexley, Gahanna, Grandview Heights, Grove City, Hilliard, Reynoldsburg, Upper Arlington, Westerville, Whitehall, Dublin and Worthington. Currently, COTA only manages bus service, though light-rail or streetcar service has been discussed several times in recent years.
COTA's administrative offices, as well as its bus garages are located in downtown Columbus. It is managed by President and CEO W. Curtis Stitt, effective February 1, 2012, as well as a 13-member board of trustees. COTA is funded by a permanent 0.25% sales tax as well as another 10-year, 0.25% sales tax which went into effect January 1, 2008.
Prior to COTA, the bus service in the area was managed by the Columbus Transit Company (CTC). In 1971 the CTC was in the midst of budget problems, so in order to maintain bus service in the area, the local governments of central Ohio created COTA. COTA acquired the assets from the CTC On January 1, 1974 and began operations the same day.COTA acquired the CTC bus service for $4.8 million. In mid-1974 COTA established its Park N Ride program and sets up the first routes at area shopping centers. At that time, cash fares were 50 cents.
In 1975, COTA launches the Key Card program, which provides a discount fare for those passengers with disabilities. By the summer of 1976, COTA had established 50 bus shelters. In 1977, COTA starts the Commuter Club that offers unlimited riding for $20 a month. One of the first express bus services, the Beeline, was introduced in 1979 giving passengers a speedy ride up and down High Street. That same year, planning a construction began on COTA's 400,000-square-foot (37,000 m2) operations center on McKinley Ave. One year later in 1980, COTA begins to provide transportation for Red, White & BOOM! In 1992, the DayPass is introduced to allow riders unlimited trips to local and crosstown routes provided by COTA's new lift-equipped buses.
Since 1997, COTA has partnered with The Ohio State University so students can show their Buck-ID and ride the new GO BUS! system hassle-free. Due to the permanent 0.25 percent sales tax to help fund public transit, ridership continues to grow over the years and increase again in 2008 due to the soaring gas prices. Also in 2008, the City of Dublin is welcomed into the COTA service territory. 
All 308 buses in COTA's fleet are fixed route buses. 58 of those are demand-response/paratransit vehicles. 
 Fleet & Mobility Services Facility
A variety of buses make up COTA's fleet. As of June 2011 there are 308 buses in COTA's fleet, six of which are hybrid-electric buses. In June 2010 COTA introduced six new environmentally friendly buses. COTA is reducing its carbon footprint through these new hybrid buses. They feature: a 48 percent increase in fuel efficiency, a battery-powered electric motor and regenerative brakes that power the battery when pressed, an LED lighting system used inside and outside of the vehicle, and most importantly a smoother ride for passengers since the electric motors do not require shifting.
Specific technologies and equipment have been added to the buses and operational facilities to help increase efficiency and safety. Due to rising gas prices, COTA is ultimately concerned with reducing fuel emissions, which sparked the addition of the hybrid-electric buses. Additional aspects added to the buses include taller mirrors with warning lights on them for safety, steering with new style steering assist to make it easier for operators and also to create more room and increased safety for larger drivers. New hardware and software was also installed in the 2011 buses and non-revenue vehicles to improve synchronization of systems through COTA and its vehicles while improving accuracy of GPS/real time information and operator communication and knowledge. COTA has also improved efficiency and safety through its brand-new paratransit facility that centralized all operators into one location. Maintenance workers, operators, administration, the call center, bus barn, and dispatch are now under the same roof to create a more functional assessment center for better accuracy in determination of paratransit eligibility.
The Mobility Services Facility is located at 1330 Fields Ave. Columbus, OH 43201. COTA's Mainstream demand-response program moved into this new, sustainable 104,000-square-foot (9,700 m2) facility on Friday, Jan. 14, 2011. This brand-new paratransit facility houses all of its operations, maintenance, and administration in a single location. The project cost $21.7 million with eighty-five percent of the cost federally funded. Of the federal support, $5.1 million was American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds. The facility holds 110 paratransit vehicles, 6 vehicle maintenance bays, administrative offices, state-of-the-art eligibility assessment center, one bus wash, and two fueling islands. The building relies heavily on natural light, reducing its dependence on artificial light. The building also contains a rainwater harvesting system which captures and stores the water for use by the bus wash and toilets. The landscape was also designed to be low maintenance and to not require an irrigation system. Additionally, the HVAC system was built below-floor providing both heat and air conditioning, which reduces the heat or cool air lost when traveling through typical air ducts.
In 2011, COTA conducted a study to consider potential benefits of switching to compressed natural gas (CNG) to power its fixed-route bus fleet. The study compared costs of CNG versus diesel fuel, operational and maintenance expenses, market forces and infrastructure costs. In keeping with COTA’s robust “Going Green” program, environmental impacts, particularly emissions, were also evaluated. COTA officials also visited and studied other public transit systems operating CNG fleets.
In late 2011, COTA made the decision to move forward with the transition to CNG and updated existing plans for the renovation of the McKinley Operations facility to include CNG compatible modifications. COTA is in the midst of a $76 million renovation of its McKinley Avenue Fixed-Route Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility. The 400,000 square foot facility is the larger and older (completed in 1974) of its two fixed-route operations facilities.
In mid-February of 2013, COTA began taking delivery of the first of 30 CNG buses. These buses will be integrated into the fleet’s rotation once the necessary vehicle maintenance training and certifications are complete.
The transition to a completely CNG fleet will be a 12-year process that will occur as coaches are retired and replaced, and additional coaches are purchased as part of COTA’s ongoing service expansion program. The transition will also require remodeling with upgrades for CNG at several COTA facilities including a second CNG fueling station at its Fields Avenue Fixed-Route Bus Facility.
 Current Fleet
- 9901-9928 1999 Novabus LFS40102
- 2101-2162 2001 New Flyer D40LF
- 2301-2310 2003 New Flyer D40LF
- 2401-2405 2004 New Flyer D40LF
- 2501-2512 2005 Gillig Low-floor 35-foot G29B102N4
- 2520-2524 2005 New Flyer D40LF
- 2701-2732 2007 Gillig Low-floor 35-foot G27B102N4
- 2801-2830 2008 Gillig Low-floor 40-foot G27D102N4
- 2831-2840 2008 Gillig Low-floor 29-foot G27E102R2
- 2901-2930 2009 Gillig Low-floor 40-foot G27D102N4
- 2931-2940 2009 Gillig Low-floor 29-foot G27E102R2
- (6 buses) 2010 Gillig Low-floor 40-foot Hybrid
- (3 buses) 2010 Gillig Low-floor 29-foot
- (37 buses) 2011 Gillig Low-floor 40-foot
- (3 buses) 2011 Gillig Low-floor 29-foot
 Retired Fleet
(from Columbus Transit Co in 1974 - total of 244 buses)
- 1 1952 AEC Regent 111 Double-deck (originally from London England - ex-London Transport RLH62/ MXX262)
- 101-118 1968 GM New-look T6H5305A
- 119-130 1969 GM New-look T6H5305A
- 131-148 1970 GM New-look T6H5305A
- 401-415 1965 GM New-look 35-foot TDH4519
- 416-433 1967 GM New-look 35-foot TDH4519
- 501-508 1968 GM New-look 35-foot T6H4521A
- 509-514 1971 GM New-look 35-foot T6H4521A
- 802,803,809 1959 GM New-look TDH5301
- 813-828 1960 GM New-look TDH5301
- 829-836 1961 GM New-look TDH5301
- 837-841 1962 GM New-look TDH5301
- 842-857 1963 GM New-look TDH5303
- 858-888 1964 GM New-look TDH5303
- 901-935 1965 GM New-look TDH5303
- 936-961 1966 GM New-look TDH5303
- 962-969 1967 GM New-look TDH5303
- 550-580 1975 GM New-look T6H5307A (first COTA bus purchase)
- 8101-8199 1982 Flxible 870 40102-8
- 8201-8265 1983 Flxible Metro 40102-6T
- 8301-8320 1983 Flxible Metro 35-foot 35096-6T
- 8401-8432 1984 Flxible Metro 40102-6T
- 8451-8468 1984 Flxible Metro 35-foot 35096-6T
- 8490-8499 1985 Skillcraft
- 8501-8543 1987 TMC RTS T80206
- 8601-8624 1987 TMC RTS 35-foot T70606
- 9101-9141 1991 Flxible Metro 40102-6T
- 9301-9319 1993 Flxible Metro 35-foot 35102-6C
- 9320-9367 1993 Flxible Metro 40102-6C
- 9501-9523 1995 Flxible Metro 35-foot 35102-6C
- 9524-9580 1995 Flxible Metro 40102-6C
- 102-103 1997 Chance AH-28 Replica Trolley
- 2001-2038 2000-2001 Advanced Bus Industries TSV-30
As of July 2012, COTA has a total of 841 employees. 181 of those are administration. The 13 member board of trustees each serve three year terms.
As of July 2012, there are seven people in COTA's executive leadership team. This includes President and CEO, Curtis Stitt, VP of Planning, Doug Moore, VP of Legal Affairs and General Counsel, Marchelle Moore, VP of Operations, Pat Stephens, VP of Communications, Marketing, and Customer Service, Marty Stutz, VP of Human Resources and Labor Relations, Kristen Treadway and VP of Finance and CFO, Marion White.
 See also
- GCRTA, serving Cleveland, Ohio
- Miami Valley Regional Transit Authority, serving Dayton, Ohio
- Ohio Department of Transportation
- SORTA, serving Cincinnati, Ohio
- COTA: Facts & Figures
- Doulin, Tim (2008-06-19). "The wheels on the bus go past some riders - At peak times, COTA can't always meet demand". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- "COTA History". Central Ohio Transit Authority. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-25.
- "A cleaned up COTA deserving of tax assist". Columbus Business First. 2006-09-11. Retrieved 2007-07-25.
- "COTA Facts and Figures". Central Ohio Transit Authority. Retrieved 2007-07-25.