COTA’s direct bus service from Ohio State’s campus to John Glenn Columbus International Airport might be discontinued, but there are still several ways to get home for the holidays.
OSUAir, which ran seasonally and provided nonstop transportation from campus to the airport, was terminated in May after being COTA’s lowest-performing line for several years, Jeff Pullin, COTA’s public information officer, said in an email. Though OSUAir picked up students directly on campus, students were using other COTA services more — all of which are included in tuition and fees.
COTA offered OSUAir during busy travel times such as fall, spring, Christmas and Thanksgiving breaks, totaling 45 days a year, Pullin said. Though OSUAir didn’t require bus changes, it ran every 90 minutes, whereas competing services run every 30 minutes.
Pullin said AirConnect, a similar COTA airport service, runs every 30 minutes from downtown hotels to CMH and requires students to take a High Street bus downtown to catch it. Passengers can take lines 1, 2, 32 or 102 downtown to catch AirConnect. Lines 1 and 2 run every 10 to 15 minutes from campus.
AirConnect takes about 45 minutes if the line 1 or 2 bus is taken downtown from the Ohio Union, and OSUAir took about 43 minutes, but convenience varied due to the various run times, Pullin said.
In 2018, OSUAir had 1,493 trips from students, and AirConnect had 2,663 trips from students. Pullin attributed OSUAir’s lower numbers to run times and the increase in rideshare options such as Lyft and Uber.
“Changing trends in travel, including the use of rideshare services, led to our decision,” Pullin said. “Discontinuing service is never an easy decision to make, but students were showing us they preferred taking the extra bus to use AirConnect, because it is a more consistent service.”
From South Campus to CMH, UberX and economy Lyft — the cheapest options — range from $21 to $24 during the week of Thanksgiving break.
Eileen Czerwinski said OSUAir influenced her son, Adam Czerwinski’s, a first-year in mechanical engineering, decision to attend Ohio State. She was disappointed when she discovered the service was terminated.
“When parents look — as well as students — when we look for a school and make a choice to select the school and you’re from out of state, one of the things we look at is how convenient is it to get to the airport from the school, and that’s something that we did consider,” Czerwinski said.
She attributed part of her disappointment to not receiving notice that the service was canceled, but Pullin said COTA held public meetings to discuss the cancellation.
Czerwinski said some families rely on COTA’s affordability and may not be able to pay for their children to Uber or Lyft to the airport.
“Not everybody has the same finances that they can just spend the money on Uber if it’s unnecessary,” she said.
Pullin said COTA partners with university groups in several ways to ensure students know about the services available with a BuckID.