Courtesy of COTA
Barbara Hare likes to take the Central Ohio Transit Authority bus from her Hilltop home to see performances at Weigel Hall, however after hearing about the pending closure of a southbound stop at High Street and 15th Avenue, she isn’t sure how she will be able to get there anymore.
The 71-year-old from Columbus’ west side Hilltop neighborhood said she usually has to leave her home at 6:15 p.m. for a 8 p.m. curtain, making a transfer downtown to board COTA’s line 2 that runs down High Street.
However, after taking the bus to a percussion performance last week, she noticed a sign on a pole indicating the stop was being considered for removal – a decision that Hare said would be a hassle.
“That’s a horrible stop to eliminate. I don’t know why they would do that,” she said.
But Hare isn’t prepared to go down without a fight.
“I basically told everyone there (at the bus stop) and everyone I knew,” she said.
In a Wednesday interview with The Lantern, Hare said she had been making calls to figure out why the stop was being considered for elimination. She said she posted her own sign on the pole, warning travelers to register a complaint with COTA before Feb. 8.
A commuter bulletin COTA posted on the pole listed the same date, and gave a phone number and mailing address where riders could file complaints.
The stop near 15th Avenue isn’t the only one under investigation. Several other stops, including the northbound stops at High Street and Woodruff and Northwood avenues, are also being considered for removal, said COTA spokesman Marty Stutz.
Southbound stops near campus slated to be removed are located at High and Northwood, 18th, and 15th avenues.
A COTA map of proposed changes indicated that six stops in the campus area have been proposed to be removed.
The possible eliminations are part of a consolidation project that has been going on since 2010. The project evaluates how far apart the stops are and how many people use them.
Stutz said that with multiple stops within a few blocks, some passengers have complained about the time it takes to make it through the area.
With the elimination of some stops, “buses could move more quickly without people having to walk much further,” Stutz said.
The project aims to balance the number of accessible stops with the flow of traffic, he said.
Stutz did not have an exact number available in a Friday interview, but said COTA had received a “handful of comments” about the 15th Avenue stop removal.
If COTA decides to eliminate any or all of the marked stops, service will be removed on May 6. Commuters will have almost three months to make plans for the adjustment as COTA continues with it’s scheduled route maintenance.
“We change our service three times a year in June, May and September, so we’re doing the bus stop improvement along the same time,” Stutz said.
While the stop removal wasn’t designed to save COTA any money, Stutz said, it might over time.
“Over the longer term it could probably save some money in the maintenance of vehicles,” he said.
With the busses not stopping as often in the campus area, it will cut down on wear and tear. The change might also lead to increased service speeds and new services down the line, Stutz said.
Some students said the changes would create an inconvenience.
“I use it every day and I’m not happy about it,” said Cheng Chung a first-year graduate student in chemical engineering. “I’ve been meaning to go online and complain.”
Chung said the paper notices on the bus stop poles are too small and fragile to be an appropriate warning for the pending change, and said it seems like COTA is “trying to get away with it without anybody noticing.”
Fourth-year in communication Stephanie Heckman uses the bus to commute downtown, and said she was vaguely aware of the possible changes while waiting at a stop near High Street and 15th Avenue Monday.
“I think it’s an inconvenience. I use it to get to my internship downtown. Some of us need these stops,” she said.
However, second-year in electrical and computer engineering Tianxiang Huang said it wouldn’t be a problem for him.
Huang rides the bus every day, but said he could walk if the bus stop is too far.
“When the snow gets bad I can’t walk sometimes, depends on the weather,” he said.
Katherine Lianez and Clayton Fuller contributed to this article