COTA and Via launch app-based on-demand transit service in Columbus suburb


New York-based transportation network and rea-time ridesharing company Via has launched an on-demand public transport service in the Columbus suburb of Grove City in partnership with the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA).

Called COTA Plus, the new on-demand shared transit network brings dynamic rides to Grove City, a community in the Columbus metropolitan area that is experiencing rapid growth and increased need for connections to COTA’s existing fixed-transit system. Using Via’s COTA Plus app, riders are able to hail a shuttle directly from their smartphone. Via’s advanced algorithms will enable multiple riders to seamlessly share the vehicle. The powerful technology will direct passengers to a nearby ‘virtual bus stop’ within a short walking distance for pick up and drop off, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.

Commuters can book rides anywhere within the defined zone in Grove City, with the on-demand deployment connecting riders to the Southpark Industrial Park, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank and the new Mount Carmel Grove City Hospital. Customers will not pay an additional fare if connecting to one of COTA’s fixed-route transit services, but if they book a point-to-point trip they will pay a US$3 fare. All bookings and fare payments must be made through the COTA Plus app.

Developing the future of public transport with the COTA Plus app comes not long after Columbus competed against 77 cities nationwide to win the US Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. The USDOT tasked Columbus with developing an, ‘integrated, first-of-its-kind smart transportation system that would use data, applications, and technology to help people and goods move more quickly, cheaply, and efficiently.’ Three years later, COTA’s partnership with Via and on-demand deployment in Grove City is helping to meet that ambition.

Via has been tasked by cities and transportation operators around the world to help re-engineer public transit from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. The company now has more than 80 launched and pending deployments in nearly 20 countries, providing more than 60m rides to date.

“We are thrilled to partner with our innovative partners at COTA to bring our technology to the Columbus area,” said Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via. “The COTA Plus service shows how public transportation and technology can work together to make a city smarter. Grove City residents now have a comfortable, convenient, and affordable way to move around. This is truly a great example of a city embracing the future of mobility.”

COTA’s president/CEO, Joanna M. Pinkerton, commented, “There is increased demand for greater mobility options across many of our Central Ohio communities, including Grove City. COTA Plus was designed with input from multiple stakeholders, including the city and area businesses, who have identified mobility challenges as a barrier to employment, healthcare, and education. We are proud to pilot this innovative service under the unique COTA Plus brand, and to work with public and private entities in the future to solve mobility challenges.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.