Exploring: A guide to navigating Ohio State and Columbus!

Your first year is all about exploring. Whether it is a new area of study, new ideas, relationships, new places, or a new city–college is the place for you to embrace your inner explorer. Another important piece to this search is to plan HOW you will navigate your first year. When it comes to transportation options on and around campus, you can’t go wrong in finding a way to explore Ohio State and Columbus. Here is the rundown of some alternative forms of transportation to be a sustainable and travel-efficient Buckeye!

CABS: Campus Area Bus Service

Certainly, if you’ve been to campus at all this academic year, you have seen plenty of CABS buses shuttling students across campus. They look like this:

To ride, just hop on! There is no need to show your BuckID while riding.


  • The Campus Loop North has overnight service around campus and runs 24/7!
  • The Ohio State mobile app and the Transportation and Traffic Management website provide information on arrival times so you don’t have to wait in the rain, snow, or look like this:


COTA: Central Ohio Transit Authority

If you’re a commuter trying to get to campus or a student who lives on-campus and wants to explore outside the university walls, COTA is the bus system for you!

COTA provides service throughout Franklin County and surrounding areas both day AND night. All you have to do as an Ohio State student is show your BuckID and hop on for free (it’s included in the fees you pay each semester)! Maps and service availability for the campus area (and beyond) are available on the COTA website.


  • Late night service around the city
  • It comes and leaves from Ohio State–which is great for commuter students!


Don’t have a car on campus and need to run some quick errands off campus? Want to be able to drive somewhere, drop off a car, and not have to worry where you left it? If so, CAR2GO may be just the method of transportation  for you! You’ll need to purchase a membership card first, but after that it’s simple: just take it, drive it, and park it.


  • It’s a great alternative to bringing your car to campus and keeping it parked across campus for months on end
  • It’s sustainable (and sort of like a toy car for adults)!

There are plenty of other options to get around campus and the city, but the three above are my personal recommendations; you can also learn more about biking, carpooling, and other options.

As you think about exploring and navigating campus, remember this: you WILL get lost. And that’s okay! We have all been there! Once, I took COTA instead of CABS and ended up in Clintonville instead of Fisher College of Business. A great part of exploring is the potential to getting a bit off course. Granted, it may not be the most convenient to test out the bus for the first time when your class is in five minutes, but it is important to figure it out for yourself. I recommend trying it out when the stakes are low. Hop on a bus and see where it takes you when you have an extended period of time to “get lost”. Bring a friend. Ask the bus driver if the bus is the right one for where you’re heading. And know that (at the very least), they all come back to the stop you hopped on originally! Happy exploring, Buckeyes! Oh, and don’t forget to look at the maps.