GPS tracking for COTA? It’s coming….

A screen shot from NYC's bus-tracking system

A screen shot from NYC’s bus-tracking system

Today is a day to rejoice. COTA has announced that starting early in 2014 people will be able to see their bus’ actual location in real-time using a GPS tracking system. So now when you’re hanging out in a cafe waiting for the twice hourly #18 to go back home you can keep an eye on your phone and time your dash to the bus stop perfectly. I wonder, will there be an app, or integration with Google maps? The easier transit gets to use the more people will use it, so we applaud another smart improvement from COTA.

For more info check out this week’s Transportation Insider column. There’s also a good bit about Millenials and transportation choice.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/10/07/cota-users-will-get-gps-updates-on-buses.html

Taking transit to work? In Columbus, you probably can’t.

BrookingsColumbusOH-page-001According to the Brookings Institute only 34% of jobs in the Columbus region are accessible within 90 minutes by transit. So, if you don’t have a car and need to get to work, well, good luck.

You can see on the map that the urban core is well serviced. If you live in Hill Top for example and work at a coffee shop downtown you can buy a COTA monthly pass and let someone else do the driving. If you want a better paying job at a distribution center in the periphery though, you’d better start saving so you can make car payments.

So, for the 10% or so of Central Ohioans with no car, those of us whose cars are on their last legs, and folks who just prefer to avoid the stress and cost of driving, there’s a good chance your work options may be limited. For those with no cars and no other options, this inability to get to where the jobs are can have a profound negative impact on their quality of life.

Businesses are beginning to feel the pinch too. Some companies in areas without reliable transit access are having staffing problems, and though we won’t name names, we’ve heard that COTA’s decision to look into expanding service to New Albany is due to several large employers there having trouble retaining workers for lower wage jobs. The trouble seems to be that the workers they’d like to recruit just can’t get to work.

Fixing this problem will not only take improved transit service in Central Ohio, but also more strategic thinking from  businesses as they consider where to locate their facilities. Land in the suburbs may be cheap, but getting there isn’t.