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Bus Ridership Hits Peak for Red, White & Boom

The Central Ohio Transit Authority is preparing for its biggest one-day ridership of the year: shuttling passengers to and from Red White and Boom.

COTA will be rolling out 242 buses for the event. Some will run their regular routes but later in the afternoon they'll provide express service for Red White and Boom. Bill Lhota is president of the Central Ohio Transit Authority

"At 5:30 p.m. we begin service from seven park-and-rides taking people downtown," Lhota says. "Starting immediately after the fireworks are over, we will start loading buses to return people to park and rides. That will go until we get the last customer out of downtown. Hopefully we'll be able to wrap that up sometime after midnight.

It's a massive undertaking for COTA which is enlisting every available member of the administrative staff to work, too - about 140 people. Bill Lhota says he'll be working at the Upper Arlington Park and Ride. As people pay their fares they'll receive wristbands.

"I like to put the wristbands on because it gives you a chance to talk to each customer and get a little interaction. It's a day when people it's their only experience with COTA. So I will be a wrist band installer," he says.

Mechanic Dennis Lightle is down on the garage floor repairing bus number 2108; getting it ready for service.

"This was a head gasket that was leaking. So I had to pull the head and replace the head gasket. And now I'm putting it back together," Lightle says. Bus driver Larry Smith says this is his fifth Red White and Boom. He says he looks forward to the event every year

"Oh I enjoy it, it's the funnest day of the year," Smith says. "You do your regular shift and then you head downtown and enjoy all the people from Columbus and surrounding states come in, people you get to meet, and just have a good time.

COTA expects about 80,000 riders for the event. The fireworks begin at 10 p.m.