The Diamond Developers: COTA Transit Audit

1-2: Our 2A route.

For the COTA transit audit, the Diamond Developers met at the southbound High and Woodruff bus stop to catch the number 2 bus towards downtown, with the goal being to reach the Panera Bread on East Broad Street in Bexley (5.4 miles). Upon arrival, the bus stop was clean and free of any trash or debris. There were two trashcans at the stop and a sign indicating the stop location and the lines that served the stopped. There was not a shelter however, which was something our group found odd as this is a very busy stop with student traffic as well as general everyday bus ridership. It was a cold and windy day so this was not exactly a pleasant start. The 2A (East Main to Hamilton Road) had an arrival time of 3:59 pm. The actual arrival was 4:05, about 6 minutes late and not the best start.

As the bus pulled up at the stop, it was easy to see it was already close to capacity as people were already standing. There were about 15 people that needed to get on at this stop, so as we all piled on, it became uncomfortably tight. Despite the overly tight conditions, the bus had minimal smell to it and was clean and free of trash. This was an older bus with fabric seats that were somewhat dirty, but that is expected with anything that is used so often. The speaker system was loud enough and the next stop announcements were audible throughout the bus, although we believe more speakers spread about the bus would help certain riders with hearing disabilities as the bus got loud at times with so many people on it. Overall this portion of the route was an okay experience. Being on-time is and has been an issue for COTA and this was our main concern with this part of our journey.

1 1-2

2 2-3

3-4: Our 10L route / 5: Final stop.

Getting off at Broad and High Streets downtown, our team knew we needed to get to the southeast corner of the intersection in order to get on the eastbound #10. It took us just a couple of minutes to walk to our next stop which was a very visually pleasing stop. Being downtown and next to the statehouse, this stop was probably designed with more attention and care, and made for an interesting wait. The shelter is large and had benches inside for sitting and waiting along with trash cans placed outside the shelter. The stop was pretty busy again with it being the middle of rush hour.

The #10L we planned to get on was 3 minutes late which helped us in the end seeing as our first bus was also late. The bus arrived at the stop with only a handful of people on it, but quickly filled up at this busy stop. This bus was newer and had plastic seats which feel cleaner as they don’t collect everything from everyone who has sat in them. The bus overall was also clean and had minimal or no smell to it.


Ashley Monachino, Chase Ridge, Sarah Cronin, Logan Fout, Alaina Parrish and Karina Okajima.



Unfortunately, our group did not make it very far. We got off just a few stops later at Broad and 5th because we knew we were pressed for time. From here we walked up to Gay and High and waited for a northbound #2 back to the campus area. This bus, labeled 2V, arrived at a stop that was somewhat dirty and had a trashcan that was overflowing. Unfortunately again, this bus was not much better than the stop. The bus had a strong and offensive smell to it almost like urine and seemed rather dirty. The bus was not too full and everyone had a seat this time except a couple of riders who chose to stand. The conclusion of our journey got us back to campus right at the 5:14 mark, the end of class.

Overall, this trip was an okay experience. The actual rides were not bad on the busses, with the exception of the dirty and smelly final ride. The main issues we saw as a group dealt with the stops themselves and the schedules and punctuality. All 3 of our busses were 2-6 mins late, which is unfortunate. Also, while we never waited “too long” for a bus, we realized that was during rush hour. This is the time of day when busses are most frequent. If we were doing this at 10pm or at another off time, things could have been very different. For a person that takes COTA everyday or most days and has to transfer, every bus being 2-6 mins late can throw off a whole schedule. One bus being 6 mins late can make a person miss a planned transfer.

Another couple of issues we felt COTA needs to address immediately include bus capacities, real-time tracking, and labeling. With there being 3 routes that, when combined, consist of 50% of ridership, larger busses can most certainly be justified for those routes. In the case of the #2 during rush hour, it was uncomfortably full. People were obviously anxious to get off the bus because they were being pushed around and crowded. Larger busses on certain routes would not only address capacity issues but would also promote more ridership. Many cities have been using articulated busses for years, why isn’t Columbus? In regards to real-time tracking, COTA is embarrassingly behind other major systems and cities. With real time tracking, people can easily check when their bus will actually arrive at the stop via smart phone and even LED signs at bus stops listing arrival times. This allows people to stay inside a little longer when it’s cold outside or maybe hurry up to make the bus they want to get on. It allows people to not be overly reliant on schedules and would increase ridership and bring COTA into the 21st century. One group member mentioned that there was a sign at a bus stop recently that proudly announced real-time tracking was “coming September 2013!”. It is now almost 2016.

When it comes to labeling of busses, COTA makes it very confusing. Nearly everyone seems clueless on what the letters mean after the number (Ex. 2V). People will oftentimes ask drivers where the bus is headed and if it will make it to a certain location. Visitors are helpless if they are unfamiliar with Columbus and people who don’t ride public transit are completely intimidated by the confusion. With the planned system redesign, COTA officials need to consider a new way to label and design routes so they’re not so confusing.

The rides were not terrible, nor were they great, but COTA has a lot of work to do. With smart redesigns and implementation of common-sense technology and amenities, COTA can finally become a world-class transit system.

The Diamond Developers: “MAPS Mini” Blog #7

When The Diamond Developers went through and scored the intersection of Tuttle Park Place and Norwich Avenue, the segment of Norwich Avenue up to High Street, and then the intersection of Norwich avenue and High Street, a total of 7/21 (33%) points were given. The main concern was the intersections, since neither provided any means of safely crossing. Both lacked a signal, a crosswalk, or any signage to alert drivers of the possibility of pedestrians. The segment on Norwich Avenue, however, was relatively safe to travel for pedestrians, but a lack of transit stops and bike path would prove to be an inconvenience for some people.

The intersection of Tuttle Park Place and Norwich Avenue.

The intersection of Norwich avenue and High Street.

The intersection of Norwich avenue and High Street.

What was missing from the MAPS mini? What did you keep wanting to report, but didn’t find on the survey tool?

The MAPS mini useful in evaluating the sidewalks and the street crossings, but the group felt that a longer evaluation would do a better job in assessing the area. The group would have liked to see more questions on the walkability of not just the segment, but leading up to the segment. Specifically, parts of Tuttle Park Place is walking in the alley with no sidewalk, which the group wanted to report. Additionally, the group felt that some of the responses were too vague, and left too much room for ambiguity. For example, the responses for well maintained buildings had two options, 0-99%, and 100%. There was not a lot of room for a gray area.

Did you find public realm mattered more or less to you than private realm? Why?

The Diamond Developers feels that the public realm mattered more than the private realm in this survey. Most of the questions dealt with how the street and sidewalks are, with only one focusing on the buildings. The questions were focused on walkability rather than the aesthetics of the private property. This is good, since people walking and biking by would likely be more concerned with their safety than with how a certain house looks. A planner, in return, should focus more on the upkeep of the sidewalks and the safety in crossing streets.

What issues do you think would be more important to community members as opposed to planners?

The Diamond developers feel that community members would be more concerned with how the sidewalk is lit, how it is kept, and how they can cross a street. For people traveling, the group feels that they would be interested in how easy it is to get from point A to point B, more so than how the surrounding private property is. However, a planner may be more concerned with how the sidewalks interact with the private property, while keeping safety as a top priority.

The Diamond Developers: Assignment 4 – Local Neighborhoods and Food Environment


Sidewalks, lighting, traffic, transportation, and safety:

      We analyzed the portion of Weinland Park bound by E. 11th Ave to the north, N. Grant Ave to the east, E. 8th Ave to the south, and N. 4th Street to the west. This neighborhood is well equipped with sidewalks (although uneven and needing replaced at times) and is in a traditional street grid pattern which makes navigating throughout easy. However, the lighting in the area is not the best with there sometimes being larger than average gaps in the light posts. This can be a serious issue for people at night especially making them feel uneasy about going out to the grocery store or local community garden due to the area’s crime rate which is slightly higher than the average rate for the city as a whole. Feeling safe going to the grocery store or local farmers market is an important part of a neighborhood’s food security so this is something that needs to be addressed. Also, along the lines of safety, this neighborhood’s closest full service grocery store is 6 blocks away at the closest point and 11 blocks away at the farthest point. In between the grocery store (Kroger at High and 7th), are two very wide, busy, and dangerous one ways with few crosswalks available for safe crossings. Not only is 6-11 blocks a far walk especially for the disabled, elderly, and young families with children, but the unsafe conditions make the trip even more so unpleasant and even impossible for some. There is a busline close to this portion of the neighborhood, however, it simply parallels the high street corridor and does not really get residents any closer to the store.


How and where families access healthy food?

      Families in this portion of the neighborhood, just like most of Weinland Park, primarily use the Kroger at High St. and 7th Ave. As stated above, there is a bus line in the neighborhood but it does little to get residents closer to the store. Also, this being a lower income area, many people do not have cars, therefore, walking is the main mode of transportation for many.


Would the residents consider the area ‘food insecure’ with lack of large grocery stores? Or is it food secure?

Residents of the area have to walk to their local Krogers to purchase goods to make meals. Krogers sells vast varieties of item to suit the needs of local consumers. While there are also many small ‘mom and pop’ shops, the residents of Weinland Park, and specifically this section, live in a ‘food insecure’ area. The small convenience stores have very small (if any) nutritious food in their stores. The only supplier of nutritious fruit, vegetable, and meat would be Krogers. This is an issue for the residents of Weinland Park. Residents need more food sources to best fit their needs.


Is the neighbourhood a ‘food swamp’ or ‘food desert’?

      This section of Weinland Park is mostly a ‘food desert.’ There are very few restaurants or grocery establishments nearby.  In the vicinity of Weinland park there are not many fresh food options.


What do you think can be done, if anything, to improve the foodways of that neighborhood and why?

The best way to improve the foodways of the neighbourhood would be building new and inspected groceries stores around the area, where those families could have easily access to healthy and secure foods. However, what should be a simple project become a real challenge if we relate it to the system that we live in. Supporting ideas like this is almost an illusion because although it would be beneficial for the society it cannot give as many profits to the private sector, those who control the market, as the current food problems can.

An alternative way to resolve this problem can be local projects of small and local spaces where those local farmers can use to serve healthy food to the neighbourhood. It is true that it cannot be able to serve all the people, but certainly it would be the begging for a new and healthy future for them. Moreover, it can also increase the local economy and maybe even make the private sector re-think their projects and ways of selling foods. As an example, we have a project of an outdoor local market to be located on east of Grant Avenue (in the map), which would be easily accessible by the neighbourhood.


People cannot wait forever for the authorities to resolve a problem, especially social ones. Everyone can start to change the world’s reality. All we need is motivation and hard work. What seems to be a change only to a neighbourhood, soon or later, will be the change of a city.