Well, maybe not the world, but the University of Cincinnati released a study comparing public transportation in 12 peer cities, including Columbus. So, how are we doing?
When compared with peer cities that have a range of transit options including rail and/or bus rapid transit we sadly don’t compare too well in any category. We rank #11 in rides per capita, beating only Indianapolis, and #9 in operational efficiency (how much of every dollar spent we get back at the fare box).
When it comes to the five cities that have bus-only systems things start getting a bit better. We rank #2 in both operational efficiency and service capacity, losing out only to Cincinnati. The other good news is that Columbus is improving every year in both of these categories. COTA it seems is stepping up to the challenge and constantly improving our system.
The take away from this study seems to be that having rail and bus rapid transit greatly increases both ridership and operational efficiency for transit systems. It’s ironic that often times people balk at the cost of rail, but in the long run it ends up making the system as a whole both more popular and cost effective. Of the top five cities for operational efficiency, four of them have rail systems. Of the worse five cities for operational efficiency, four of them have bus-only systems.