The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the award of $37.5 million in federal grant funds to the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) for a new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service in Columbus.
The 15.6-mile BRT service, called CMAX, will provide a much-needed option in a corridor with high transit use. Ridership on COTA’s existing local bus route on Cleveland Avenue is among the highest in the system and rapidly growing. CMAX will help reduce passenger crowding, improve travel speeds and schedule reliability along the corridor.
In addition, the line will connect riders to major destinations such as downtown Columbus, Columbus State Community College, shopping centers and hospitals.
The FTA is contributing 77% of the $48.65 million total cost of the Cleveland Avenue BRT project. The federal grant funds are from the Small Starts funding category of FTA’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program. The CIG program is the federal government’s primary grant program for funding major transit projects. The remaining project costs are being paid for by a sales tax that is collected in the COTA service area and dedicated to funding expanded transit services.
The project will operate between downtown Columbus and the Ohio Health Medical Center in the neighboring city of Westerville.
The project includes 32 bus stops, construction of two park-and-ride lots, the purchase of 15 compressed natural gas buses, transit signal priority and next-bus arrival information for passenger platforms. The BRT line is scheduled to open in January 2018.