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COTA Receives $37 Million For Rapid Bus Line

Esther Honig
The $37 million dollar grant from the FTA will pay for most of the new rapid transit bus route, CMAX

The Central Ohio Transit Authority, or COTA received a $37 million grant from the Federal Transit Authority. Funds will go towards the construction of a rapid transit bus route that’s been named CMAX.

It’s not the shiny-new light rail that some people in Columbus are hoping for, but it will improve one of the busiest bus routes in the city. Starting in 2018, COTA officials said CMAX, will run along Cleveland Avenue from Westerville all the way to downtown Columbus.

Buses equipped with Wi-Fi and powered by natural gas will arrive about every 10 to 15 minutes, shrinking travel time by 21 percent. FTA administrator Carolyn Flowers said rapid bus transit projects like CMAX are ideal for a less densely populated city.

“They can actually be implemented pretty fast and at a reasonable cost,” said Flowers. “I think that Columbus they have a tool here that’s going to be something that they can grow from in the future.”

Credit Esther Honig / WOSU
COTA President Curtis Stitt, FTA administrator Carolyn Flowers, Director of Linden Development Donna Hicho, and U.S. Sen. Brown sign the $37 million dollar grant.

US Senator Sherrod Brown helped secure the funding for the FTA in order to move the project forward. Brown said an upgrade to this bus route could improve the lives of thousands of local residents.

“In terms of addressing so many of the of the issues of getting to work, getting to the doctor, getting to the grocery store, picking up the kids. All the things that public transit can do for a community.”

CMAX bus stops will display work by local artists and screens that announce real time arrival information. The project will also include the construction of a new park and ride and transit center. The total cost will be roughly $48 million--the additional $10 million will come from local funds.