COTA Launches New On-Demand Bus Service for Otterbein, Westerville

Posted Sep 01, 2020

All the advantages of Otterbein’s perfect location are easier to access thanks to the addition of COTA’s on-demand and app-based bus service to campus and Westerville. 

Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) has expanded its COTA//Plus micro-transit service to the Otterbein and Westerville communities. This is an on-demand service — a lot like Uber and Lyft, but from our trusted friends at COTA. The new service will take students anywhere in Westerville, as well as Polaris Fashion Place, IKEA and Top Golf. 

COTA//Plus can also serve as a great way to help students make it to a polling location for the upcoming 2020 election in November.  

Otterbein Vice President for Enrollment Management Jefferson Blackburn-Smith says that COTA//Plus will play a significant role in improving students’ access to internships and Westerville amenities — all at an affordable price. 

“The new COTA//Plus service offers Otterbein students a level of access to our surrounding community, with Uber-like convenience for $3 a ride. No other university in central Ohio has a similar service. It’s convenient and affordable for students, and provides peace of mind for parents,” he said.  

Because of COTA’s commitment to the community, COTA//Plus and all COTA services remain free during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once it returns to a fee structure, rides will only be $3 a ride or $6 for a day pass. If a COTA//Plus passenger transfers to a COTA bus to head someplace else in Columbus, the ride is always free. 

COTA//Plus is dedicated to daily cleaning and disinfecting schedules that exceed industry standards. Additionally, the six-passenger vehicles will only transport two passengers at a time, unless the group is a family unit, to ensure social distancing.  

COTA//Plus Westerville follows the successful implementation plan already established in Grove City and Northeast Columbus. According to their website, COTA’s mission is “bigger than the bus” with constant new developments to move every life forward.  

The transit program was made possible thanks to a partnership between COTA and the City of Westerville. Through the agreement, COTA is covering the first $250,000 of operating budget each year of operation. Westerville will contribute $358,749 in 2021 and $320,715 in 2022, which are the first two years of the pilot.  

“COTA//Plus is the realization of one of Westerville’s key strategies to improve mobility and accessibility in our community,” said David Collinsworth, Westerville City Manager. “We’ve planned and studied efficient and affordable ways to offer public transportation services and believe this COTA//Plus pilot program is the right fit for us. We already have a strong COTA presence in Westerville with the CMAX line to downtown and stops along our commercial routes. We are excited to take this next step together and we encourage students to use it for travel and commuting.”  

“We are very excited about showcasing our COTA//Plus service to Otterbein students, faculty and staff,” said COTA Chief Marketing and Experience Officer Alexis Yamokoski. “There is a lot of opportunity for everyone with this new service.” 

Download the COTA//Plus app from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store today and start exploring our “quiet, peaceful village” of Westerville! 

Learn more about COTA’s traditional bus service for Otterbein students in this video.

Check out some behind-the-scenes photos of Otterbein Theatre and Dance students acting in a COTA commercial! 

Check out some more photos of the COTA//Plus Westerville vehicle in our photo gallery