June 5, 2012

The Paradox of Public Transit and Big Events

The Columbus Arts Festival was this past weekend and on top of that, Gallery Hop was also going on in the Short North. It's great that Columbus is large enough to support so many events and with the traffic/parking/drinking being more likely during these events, it makes public transit more attractive. The problem with transit systems which use shared roads like COTA is that their schedules can be thrown off by the traffic caused by the events.

On Saturday, I witnessed the worst aspects of the bus line up which COTA implements. A bus line up is when all of the local routes stop downtown to allow passengers to transfer. They happen at 10:00 PM, 11:00 PM, and 12:00 AM. Most of the routes in the picture above are involved with the line up with the exception of 12, 13, 14, and 15. In other words, there are a lot of buses lining up downtown.

When I arrived at the stop and saw the bus pulling in at 9:55 PM, I asked if they could not stop so close to the next bus so that I could put my bike on the rack. They were unable to do it because it was a tight fit to get all of the buses on the block but that as soon as the line up got moving I could place my bike on the rack.   The bus line up happened on High Street block between Broad and Gay which is about 500 feet. That's a lot of room for buses.

We waited and waited and waited and I overheard another bus driver say that he was supposed to be at the end of his route and turning around already. I asked our bus driver if there was enough recovery time and he said there was no way they would be able to catch back to their schedules. At 10:25 PM, we left. 10:23 PM is when we should have arrived at our bus stop. We arrived at 10:45 PM. The last stop on the route was scheduled at 10:38 PM.

The #2 heading south from campus was one culprit for the delay. The northbound #11 was the other culprit. 2 buses out of ~20 buses caused a 25 minute delay in the schedule. While I understand the way the system works and was glad I was outside for the duration of the line-up, it would have been a terrible experience for anyone using the bus for the first day. In the future, I may opt to cut the chord if a bus isn't projected to be downtown by a certain time.

There's a song called "Bus Stop":


  1. And people want to add on-street parking during these hours!!!


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