OH: COTA’s Leader Looks Past Buses For The Future Of Transportation


By Mark Ferenchick, The Columbus Dispatch, Aug 19, 2019

“Pinkerton, COTA’s president and CEO, has been on the job for more than a year now, leading an organization of 1,100 employees and more than 300 buses. Her mantra has been mobility.

That doesn’t mean just buses. She’s talking about linking buses to what’s called “first-mile, last-mile” transportation, including scooters and bicycles, and microtransit, or smaller buses that can link workers and commuters to neighborhoods and workplaces.

“Transportation has largely been the same for about 100 years,” said Pinkerton, 43, who lives in Circleville. But technology is playing a role in how that is changing for COTA.

That includes a pilot program that began in July in Grove City, where for $3 riders can use the COTA Plus app to request a ride. A six-passenger bus will then arrive within 15 minutes to pick up the passenger. The buses serve an area that includes the Mount Carmel Grove City hospital and the Southpark Industrial Area.

Also, an app is being developed through COTA and Smart Columbus where riders can compare routes and transportation options — including bus, bike, scooter or car — and pay for their travel on the app.

“We believe mobility is embedded in the economic success of every company,” Pinkerton said.”

But Williams also talked about COTA’s challenges, including the union’s continuing fear of driverless buses, pointing to the self-driving shuttle along the Scioto Mile and one that will begin in the Linden area later this year. Those are part of the Smart Columbus initiative, which is unaffiliated with COTA.”