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As Gas Prices Soar, Some Commuters Turn to the Bus

An official with the Central Ohio Transit Authority says high gasoline prices are causing an increase in riders on the bus system. COTA employees were in downtown Columbus Thursday morning urging holdouts to try riding the bus for a change.

A contingent of COTA representatives took to the sidewalks downtown Thursday, National Dump the Pump Day. The American Public Transportation Association says public transportation saves money, conserves gasoline, and helps reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses. With gasoline at a premium, it means that ridership in Columbus is growing. COTA spokesman Marty Stutz.

"With gas prices being high people are looking for an alternative to paying a lot of money to fill up their tank to drive back and forth to work so we are seeing heavier loads," Stutz says. "Mostly on the High Street lines, East and West Broad Street lines, our Cleveland Avenue lines.

Stutz says for the week of June 8th, ridership increased 8.6 percent over the same period a year ago.

But some of the buses have been so full lately that they're leaving riders standing at the bus stop.

"If a bus is at capacity and the operator decides in the interest of safety they have to pass up some waiting customers there's usually a bus within a few minutes behind that bus," Stutz says. "We don't want to leave people standing out there 15 or 20 minutes."

COTA continues to adjust its routes, Stutz says. This year it will replace 40 buses in the 252-bus fleet. Stutz also says that new cross-town routes are in the planning stages. Cross-toen buses are already operating east to west on Route 161, Bethel Road and Broad Street.