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.
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.