Explore Nation: COTA Transit Audit

Our plan was to take the #7 bus at 3:34 PM and then transfer to the #5 bus at 3:54 PM. We waited at the bus stop outside of Knowlton Hall to catch the #7. Here, we sat on a bench with a shelter 101579181while we waited. It was a frigid day, so this somewhat helped to keep the cold wind out. The sidewalk was also clean and wide; there was a lot of room for people to stand waiting all while people could pass. The #7 arrived a few minutes late. Once we got on, the driver greeted us kindly. The bus appeared to be in a suitable condition with some signs of use. The overall environment was acceptable. The lights were dimmed, the bus was clean, and the other passengers kept to themselves. The stops were regularly announced over a loudspeaker, and the time, date, and next stop were also announced and shown on an LED screen at the front of the bus.

68947718Once we got off of the #7, we had to cross residential roads (Neil Avenue) in order to get to our transfer stop. There was no cross walk and the roads were fairly busy. At this bus stop, we had no place to sit. There was only a sign stating that the #5 stopped there. Here, we waited until the bus arrived at 3:54 PM. This bus was slightly cleaner than the #7, but the driver didn’t greet us as nicely as the first; it was also much smaller and busier. The bus was quiet and became less and less busy as we went on. We rode this for awhile until the driver told us that we would have to get off so that she could go into First Community Village to pick up passengers; we weren’t allowed in because this area was not open for the public.

At this stop, there was no sidewalk and no bench. The stop going back the other way was initially hard to spot, and was on the private drive to the retirement village. We all had to stand in the cold for 15 to 20 minutes. The same bus came out of the assisted living home and picked us up again.

By this time, we realized that we had planned to get on the wrong bus. Instead of

The interior of a typical COTA bus.

The interior of a typical COTA bus.

going to our required destination, we had only gone about four miles. We tossed around the idea of getting off of this bus and finding the right one to get on, but we eventually decided that we wouldn’t make in there and back in time. We chalked this mistake up to the fact that the COTA system was difficult to understand. The website itself warns potential passengers that its information may not be correct, and that they should check Google maps for updated information. The lettering system of the buses also doesn’t make sense unless you know exactly which bus goes where.

563526254We then stopped again near where we stopped for our transfer to the #5 bus. We had a bench to sit on, but it was very close to the road with no curb. The sidewalk was also narrow. There were two buses that came to this stop; the #7 and the #18. We understood that both went back to campus, so we simply waited for the first one that came, which ended up being the #18. Like the #7, this bus was in acceptable condition with some signs of regular use.

Overall, our trip on the bus wasn’t bad, but required much planning and forethought. You had to look up the timetables online because there are none that we found at bus stops, the Student Union, or any place a university connected to a city bus system would typically have them. In addition, COTA’s website mislead and confused us as we accidentally planned a trip to the incorrect Giant Eagle Market District. However, we did eventually realize that we had taken the wrong route because of the regular announcements of each stop’s location. The other passengers acted similarly throughout the evening, mostly keeping to themselves, and the drivers all greeted us, but to different degrees. Additionally, the equipment throughout our transfers all appeared to be in good condition with acceptable signs of use. These aspects allowed us to feel as though we were in a safe environment, allowing for a pleasant trip that took exactly 1 hour and 16 minutes on the bus overlooking the trouble we had with finding the correct route.

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5 Beers & A Coke: COTA Transit Audit

Following the guest presentation by Elliot Doza and Alex Beim on the organization of the COTA bus system, it was our job to experience first hand how effective bus travel was in getting to one’s destination. Many people rely heavily on the COTA bus system to get to school, work, and home; therefore our audit of the COTA bus system was very practical.


Our team met on the corner of Woodruff and High at 3:55pm on Thursday afternoon. Our goal was to get from campus to Graeter’s in Bexley and back again in one class period. Because our destination was only 6.6 miles away we believed this was an attainable goal. We began by walking to stop #3957 on N High & 18th Ave. The stop was conveniently situated on the right side of High Street and easily visible. Although there was no shelter, there were some benches for those waiting. On that day a shelter would have been highly appreciated, as it was very cold and windy for the many people waiting at the stop. There were also two big streetlights on either side of the stop that gave off a safe feeling for those waiting.


Our plan was to catch The 18 to High & Broad, get off and catch The 2 the rest of the way into Bexley. Our first road block occurred when the scheduled 3:57pm bus was around 10 minutes late. This initially delayed our travel time. Once on the bus our group easily all found seats, as the bus was just around half way full. Overall the ride was fairly pleasant. The ride was warm, smooth, and relatively quiet. The bus smelled clean and there was not any visible trash from where we were sitting. As we surveyed others riding the bus we saw many had headphones in or were relaxing, as many of them looked to be ending a workday and going home. As previously stated the bus wasn’t full at the time of our ride, but as people began to get on, others were more than willing to make room for available seating. Due to the timing of our ride, it began to get dark outside, however there was sufficient lighting on board without it being too bright. Due to the technology on the bus, riders could request a stop at anytime along the route. While we did agree this was convenient for riders, it also proved to be significantly time consuming as the bus made many stops along our journey, especially through the Short North neighborhood.


Because of this we were delayed in getting to our transfer location on S High St & Capitol Square. Once we made it to our transfer location, we boarded The 2 fairly quickly. Although it was dark outside, the bus stop (#7341) was very pleasant. The shelter was atheistically pleasing and blended in nicely with the surrounding area. The shelter was also lit on both sides, and trashcans were easily located to decrease litter in the area. The 2 was more full than The 18 at this point, however we all managed to find seats. Looking around, we gathered the main demographic of those riding the bus was an older crowd however; two young boys did board the bus with their father at one point. Because most of our group has been in Columbus for quiet sometime, and are familiar with some suburbs we knew for the most part where we where. The 2 was also quiet, however on two different occasions the bus driver began to get very angry at someone because she could hear their music. Although the music was barely heard by any of us, it proved to be a great annoyance and hazard to the driver. When the music was not immediately turned off the driver angrily said she would not continue driving until it was turned off. The passenger complied, and we continued on our way. Eventually around 5pm we got to our destination in Bexley.



Graeter’s In Bexley: Breanna Geiser, Nolan, Alex Stickenmaker, Caroline Hughes, Paul Dravillas, Kevin Cannon

After a little under an hour of travel time, we concluded as a group we would not be able to take the bus home. Many of us had class at 5:30 or other obligations that the bus would not get us back in time for. Alternatively, we decided to Uber and got back to campus in 20 minutes instead of an hour. Although this was not the ideal situation, it was necessary given the bus’ travel time. Overall, we concluded taking the bus for short trips would be very effective and easy, however when interested in going further, the length of time and unreliability of the system outweigh the benefits.

The Chaire of Pierre : COTA Transit Audit


          The Chaire of Pierre started its COTA adventure on 18th and Woodruff heading North on the number 2 bus. The end goal was to arrive to Micro Center off bethel road within the same amount of time as one class period. We used the COTA trip planner app to decide on our route, ensure that the distance was over 5 miles (5.2), as well as confirm that we were completing our transfer with the correct bus routes. The app suggested that we take the number two bus north to Morse Rd, where we would then change to the number 95 bus to arrive to the final destination. It seemed simple enough.


Our group gathered at the northbound stop on High and Woodruff. This is a very crowded stop, as there was not enough space to hold the capacity of people waiting on their bus around this time. Despite the smaller size, it ultimately didn’t seem to matter considering the number 2 has so many buses on route, and generally speaking arrives very frequently, so that the large mass of people were not staying there too long. After arriving at our northbound stop, we decided not to get on the 3:55 bus so that we could observe the bus stops’ functionality. After watching two number 2 buses go by, it was time to board.

The number 2 bus line goes up and down high street all day long. The closer it is to campus and downtown, the more crowded the bus seemed to be. When we first got on, not all of us had a place to sit. However, as the bus proceeded towards Clintonville, much of the bus passengers were departing. By the time we got off there were only a handful of people left. From this, we came to the conclusion that during peak hours the buses that were traveling in more “prime” locations, such as High St. and the campus area, tend to be over-crowded which can cause a more un-enjoyable experience for COTA’s riders.



As we left our number 2 bus to prepare for our transfer to the 95 bus, we waited at a bus stop on Morse Rd. Unlike the stop that we waited at on High St., this bus had a shelter with a bench, which gave us a place to sit down while we waited for the bus arrival, as well as provided a structure to help protect us from the wind. The wait for our transfer bus was minimal, roughly 10-15 minutes. The time that the bus arrived matched with the sign at the physical bus stop, but was about 4-5 minutes later than what the app suggested. Although the app was slightly incorrect, it is important to remember that these are the peak times of rush-hour, and a slight delay in the timing is to be inevitable. The 95 bus was significantly less crowded as we only shared the bus with one person, who got off shortly after we arrived, leaving our group on the bus by ourselves.


Despite the large crowd that we were initially   the bus with, safety did not seem to be a concern for us. Considering the time of day and the fact that most people were riding to their homes after class/work, most riders seemed to be quiet, listening to music, or just simply keeping to themselves, which did allot for a better experience for all riders on board. On top of feeling safe in regards to the other passengers on board, the staff we encountered on both busses was very friendly and helpful. In respect to the equipment on the bus, there were noises that could be heard, but nothing that seemed to be too overbearing to diminish our experience on the bus.

Charlie Thompson, Heidi Cron, Adam Trimmer, Hannah Sargel, Jake Byerly, Rachel Petrosino

Charlie Thompson, Heidi Cron, Adam Trimmer, Hannah Sargel, Jake Byerly, Rachel Petrosino 

Overall, we came to the conclusion that the COTA is an efficient system, but still has room for improvements. Throughout the trip, we always had a least one group member familiar with where we were considering several of our members are from Columbus, as well as another member currently living in the Clintonville area. As we stated previously, the busses did arrive around the same time that the stops anticipated, but it would be nice to have a transit system that could have faster bus routes. One way that this could become a reality is through incorporating more express bus lines. These express bus lines would give community members a more direct route to their location, which would limit the amount of planning that riders must do to get to their final location on time.IMG_6302

Urban Avengers: COTA Transit Audit

DSC00511The Urban Avengers’ trek began at the COTA bus stop on High Street (heading south) near 18th Avenue. While this stop was certainly not chock-full of amenities, it did provide two large, sturdy trash cans.




What was lacking at this highly utilized stop was a shelter, it was windy and people were very chilly. We arrived a few minutes early for our #2 bus, which had a scheduled arrival time of 3:59, however the bus actually arrived at 4:05, which threw us off schedule for the next bus (an eastbound #10 at Broad & High), which we hoped to catch at the scheduled time of 4:20pm, but did not make it in time.




The southbound drive down High Street was long and painful – the bus was completely over a comfortable capacity, with practically as many passengers standing as were seated (this was likely due to the high number of students from our class that were on it – the “regulars” seemed shocked that it was so crowded).

Our bus driver was very friendly and helpful, especially with assisting an elderly handicapped woman onto the bus and into a seat. This bus, while very crowded, did not seem overly noisy.







Our next leg of the trip, was supposed to consist of our group catching the eastbound #10 at 4:20 pm, but our group arrived late due to the lateness of the #2. DSC00522So we waited in a *COTA shelter at the southeast corner of Broad and High for the next #10, scheduled for 4:31 (actual arrival 4:33).


The general vibe of the passengers on this bus seemed tired, quiet, and perhaps just ready to get home and relax. While the original plan was to take this bus to our chosen destination, The Franklin Park Conservatory – we had to abandon our experiment at 4:45 as we knew we would not be able to get back to the point of origin by class end-time of 5:15 pm. We had one group member leave the bus at 4:40 in order to hopefully get to back to campus for his next class by its start time of 5:30. DSC00531The rest of us were prepared to attempt the entire trip, but when our bus was continually slowed by several red lights and another handicapped passenger situation, we knew we were looking at a 5:00 pm arrival at our destination (at best), and therefore abandoned the Conservatory destination.




DSC00533 Rhoda Du, Evan Hertzog, Daniel Cirino, Nathan Vale and Gina Scarver



We exited the #10 at Broad and Washington (Columbus Museum of Art), crossed Broad Street and walked 3 blocks west before ½ of our group (the women) waited on a westbound #10 bus, which we could see in the distance. The remainder of the group (the two men left) decided to walk to Broad and High and see if they would “beat the bus.”


While the girls technically “won” by arriving at Broad and High ahead of the walkers, the walkers then caught up with us while walking to the next stop (High and Long). On this final leg of the trip, 4 of us caught the next #2 heading north on High, and one group member caught the #4 which would route up Indianola Avenue to campus. This final bus stop at High and Long is extremely busy and extremely dirty. The smell of either rotten food or vomit (or both) was overwhelming and hard to escape. DSC00540Our feet were literally sticking to the sidewalks in and around the several shelters. There were several shelters, which we did not enter as they were crowded. We did, however, enjoy the slanted horizontal “resting/leaning pads” which are fastened to the front of the shelters, this helped with standing. This stop, overall, was very disappointing and made for an uncomfortable wait, largely due to the smell and dirty conditions.




The final bus, which was dimly lit and very quiet, arrived at Long and High at approximately 5:12pm and we arrived at Woodruff and High Street at 5:33 pm. DSC00537It is our belief that had we continued to the Conservatory as originally planned, we would not have arrived back at Woodruff & High until possibly well after 6:00 pm; so while we did not want to abandon the destination, we felt it was the correct choice based on timing.

Overall, all of the buses were clean, drivers were friendly, and we never felt that safety was an issue…with the possible exception of a pretty rambunctious Doberman guide dog-in-training that alarmed two members. The only notable equipment issue was what seemed like very sensitive brakes on the final bus, as the stops were very jerky. It was fairly easy to know where we were at all times on all buses, especially since the automatic verbal announcements communicate the stops, which we found very helpful.

The overall trip was long, and waiting was uncomfortable due to the cold, but the buses were for the most part reliable – the destination was not able to be reached largely due to the lateness of the first bus, and then followed with issues from traffic, red lights and the time it took for large volumes of people getting on and off the bus.


*The shelter at Broad and High seemed fairly new, was nice in appearance, clean, no offensive odors, was partially encased with clean glass windows, contained several long benches and ceiling heaters (however they were not in use), and had no visible damage or graffiti. The chief complaint here was that, while the roof covering would certainly be appreciated if it had been raining or snowing, it did not offer blockage from the wind, as there are large openings at the top and bottom all the way around. It may have actually even been colder inside the shelter as it seemed to act as a wind tunnel.