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.
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.