Columbus considering changes to bus rates and routes

Photo courtesy of city of Columbus

Columbus transit officials are considering increasing the costs of rides on the ColumBUS, changing the frequency of some routes and moving the city transit hub, after the results of a transit study.

I talked with Columbus City Engineer Dave Hayward who explains that the study revealed several areas for improvement and areas where the city does well. One of the recommendations was to increase the rate that riders pay.

Columbus has had a rate of 25 cents per ride since at least the late 70s, Hayward said. Other comparable cities had rates of $1 dollar to $1.50 per ride. The city is considering increasing the rate to 50 cents per ride.

Because the city has gone so long without a rate increase, the exact procedure to raise rates is still being figured out, Hayward said. It will likely require approval by the city’s Board of Public Works and Safety.

The study also outlined the need to move the city’s transit hub, which is at Mill Race Center at the corner of LIndsey Street and Indianapolis Road. The center is where all the buses gather to start their hourly routes, but it is also on the wrong side of the railroad tracks from the largest part of the city.

The consultants also suggested that the city increase the route interval during certain times of the day, on certain routes. That would increase the routes from every hour to every half hour. But the consultant also suggested just adding more buses to make that happen.

Hayward said that the city does not want to add more buses due to the costs. The city transit department had an approved 2019 budget of $2.3 million according to the state Local Government & Finance web portal. The city has six buses available, with five fixed routes.

Just over 212,000 rides were made in 2019 on the fixed routes, plus another 16,748 for the Call-a-Bus program.

You can get more information on the city transit system here.