Now I will explain the good, bad and ugly about the COTA public bus system. The good news is the buses were very nicely air-conditioned, the drivers helpful overall and most are equipped with a automated system for telling riders what stop they are at and the next one after that.
The bad is that is a tremendous lag time between buses as well as barely a late-night schedule. Weekend service is especially bad in the frequency dept. Also, there is not always a very convenient transfer point between different bus lines. The worst example of this is that there is NO direct bus from the Columbus Airport to the center of the Downtown!!! The closest is a special express bus (#52) that runs on a VERY limited, SEASONAL schedule to and from the Airport to the OSU campus way North of the Downtown.
Best to stick to the North and South High Street lines (#2 and #7 were the most useful to me) and try not to have any grander ambitions. I finally gave up trying to find the "mythical" #19 bus that supposedly travels between Grandview Hts and the downtown. Even a policeman could not help me on this.
Also, it is VERY ambitious to ride the #1 bus which heads up Cleveland Avenue. It gets a bit ugly in terms of the surrounding area and scenery!!
There is a COTA information office and ticket center at 33 North High Street near the epicenter of the Downtown (Broad) near the Capitol building. I was here almost every day getting maps and schedules etc.. I purchased a weekly pass ($22) here but you may also buy day passes ($4) from the driver which would have worked out a little cheaper since I still had extra days I couldn't use. Cash is accepted on board (BUT no change will be given!!)
Express buses ONLY operate during weekdays and generally during rush hour commuting times.
Unlike NYC where you see a real mix of high, middle and low incomes riding buses it appears that COTA definitely features the lowest end of the economic spectrum.
Realize that most distances in Columbus appear much closer than they actually are on the transit system map.
Overall, I found it easier to get-around Los Angeles by bus than in Columbus!!!!
Taxis are expensive in Columbus. However, especially as the evening wears on, you may need to bite the bullet and use them. It is helpful to make friends with a driver if you are staying awhile and get their number directly since dispatchers are not overly helpful with cabs on short notice, especially for shorter distances.
As mention in my COTA saga, there is no direct way to go from the Airport to Downtown Columbus. Best to take a cab ($15-$20) or a super shuttle. The ride is very quick. It took less than 15 minutes from the Hyatt Regency at the Convention Center to the Airport.
If you are traveling light then Skybus is a very good option for you. You can find fares for 10$!!! As of now they connect 18 cities, however they have been adding new locations often. The catch is they nickle and dime you for extras, like checking luggage, but still it is a very economical option.
SKYBUS NO LONGER EXISTS..... I HOPE YOU TOOK ADVANTAGE OF IT WHILE IT WAS HERE
Depending on the traffic and weather we can usually make it from New York to Columbus in nine hours. Sometimes Ohio State is having a big game and can impact heavily on traffic and make the trip ten- 11 hours long.
Columbus is seriously considering putting in a (modern) Trolley/streetcar system resembling what they have done in Portland, Oregon. The cars would be eco-friendly running completely on electricity. The first line would be on high street from 12th ave (OSU) to the downtown. Future plans would extend to connect more areas. Although officials have much more planning and decisions to make I think it is a great idea and can't wait for the next round of news to come about. Fares are estimated to be about 1$. I will try and update this as more news comes about, hopefully this will make visiting Columbus as a tourist easier.
In the mean time here is a nice article that was in the Columbus Dispatch
Also check out the unofficial support site listed below
These prices are listed on the Port Columbus Website. Also this website has other information about shuttles to the downtown, renting a car, and approximated prices to different areas within Columbus. Check it out if you need public transport in Columbus.
You'll find taxis available in the ground transportation area of the terminal on a 24-hour basis. The electronic meter will be activated to compute your fare from Port Columbus International Airport. The approximate fare into downtown Columbus is $25.00. Listed below is the current taxicab rate structure:
Initial charge (includes loading and first 1/9 mile) $2.75
Each additional 2/9 mile $ .45
Each 60 seconds of waiting time $ .45
Surcharge for each trip originating at airport $3.00
Sales Tax 6.75%
Charges on trips outside of Franklin County shall be mutually agreed upon by the driver and the passenger(s). The charge shall not exceed $2.25 per mile.
Taxi General Manager
Lost & Found Items
PS. not all Columbus Taxis are equal, I would avoid blue taxis while you are in town
MegaBus connects Columbus to Indianapolis, Chicago, and Cincinnati. The have two pickups in Columbus, one is the COTA station the other is OSU. I recommend the OSU better, because the COTA stations can be kind of shady late at night. Probably from C-bus to Chicago it will run you about 8-36$ depending upon when you book. Pretty economical seeing as how gas prices are now a days....
If you need to go a short distance, but it is a little bit of a walk, the bus system is a decent option for the central area.
Columbus has a bus system call COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority, not to be confused with Ohio State's own bus system CABS (campus Area Bus System).
The main differences between these bus systems is that the COTA goes in and around Columbus, which CABS is basically just OSU area.
the COTA website is pretty good at finding a way to get you to your destination.
Bus #2 goes up and down High Street, and is a very important bus to know because it connects Clintonville, OSU campus, Short North and Downtown.
CABS buses are also free to anyone, usually pretty well kept, a good way to get around campus especially if it is cold out, or stinking hot.
COTA buses cost about 1.50$ per ride, however you can get a free transfer if you ask the bus driver ahead of time. the transfer however cannot get you back the way you came.
~There are discounts for kids, seniors, etc check out their site
~Make sure you have exact change
~OSU students ride free by showing Buck-ID
~Discount passes are available for purchase a head of time
~Buses do not run very late! they stop running about at 11pm
Although we did not use our car while we were in Columbus, Ohio, we needed it to get there. We "valet parked the car" since we were staying at the Hyatt on Capitol Square.
If you plan to go to the Zoo, Franklin Park conservatory and Botanical Garden, Hanby House State Memorial, Kelton House Museum and Garden, Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, or Ohio Governor's Residence Tour, you will certainly need your car. There are also other outlying activities nearby that would require the use of a car.
If you stay downtown, you can easily walk to many places. It was about a 10-15 minutes walk to reach German Village, about a 10-minute walk to reach the Old Deaf School Park, less than 5 minutes to the State Capitol and Capitol Square, and about a one-minute walk to reach the Ohio Theatre or the Columbus City Mall. Other areas in the City such as the North Market, the Short North area , Ohio State University, Santa Maria Replica can be reached via walking, a taxi, or your car.
For a Taxi, use Blue Cab, (614)236-4444 or (614)268-4466, 15% Senior Citizen and Student Discount.
Operated by the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, Port Columbus is a large airport with three concourses and is served by every major American airline without any one of them dominating the market. Although we live much closer to the Cincinnati Airport, sometimes it is worth the extra drive for us to fly out of Columbus because the fares can be cheaper. Airlines offering service at Port Columbus include, in no particular order:
America West/America West Express
Air Canada Jazz
U.S. Airways/U.S. Airways Express
Columbus has perhaps some of the poorest quality public transportation. COTA bus times are unreliable. Unless you are just headed straight down (north to south or vice versa) or east to west (ditto) getting around Columbus on bus is not a good experience.
228-1776 (automated system 24 hours)
Columbus buses run as follows
#2 North High/OSU Bus Line: runs from 4am to midnight(from downtown to delaware county line) and then turns into #20 until 3am from german village to southern sections of clintonville, past OSU
All other routes(there are 50 something routes run 5am to midnight, except in grove city, dublin and hilliard
etc...(#2)North High bus runs every 6 minutes from noon to 5pm and every 4 minutes during rush hour
Fare is dollar, one day pass 3 bucks
By car definitely! Cota bus system is ok if you on the main lines like High Street.
Get a map from Chamber of Commerce. Take lots of change for parking meters or if you're lucky, a parking garage/lot for downtown.
Sprawling and low density Columbus is definitely a car city. Happily, parking is relatively cheap and available (one of Columbus's major industries seems to be parking...) The worst traffic occurs during rush hour on the north side of town. Several construction projects are underway right now, the most noted being the re-construciton of the very useful I-670 connector between I-71 and 315, so going east to west, just north of downtown, is a bit more involved than it used to be. For those wanting to cross the north side of downtown, I'd take 5th ave. For those going east to west across the south side, Broad Stree, Main Street, and I-70 are all fine targets A site for Columbus Traffic Info The COTA bus sytem is useful for those who commute into downtown and abandon the heart of the city at 5:00, but, for the rest of us, it is a time-consuming mess. One execption,: if one lives or is staying within walking distance of High Street, bus transport is a good way to get a feel for a few of the more interesting parts of the city- the Short North, German Village and OSU. Take the Number 2 as far as it will go in either direction to get your bearings.
Due in part to the political efforts of Ohio Governor Bob Taft- (R), an avid bicyclist, Columbus is currently in the process of building a large system of bike trails, which, while fairly useless as commuter routes, nonetheless are worthwhile for the recreational rider. The most established is the Olentangy bikeway which runs from south of downtown (berliner park), all the way up to I-270 along the Olentangy river- with a few well-marked interruptions on minor side streets. The best part of the path runs north from the Whetstone Park of Roses, through a long series of tree-filled parks and riverside views. Antrim park with its half mile long resivior, is a popular spot for joggers and dog walkers. North of route 161, the path winds through the parks along back yards of residential Worthington. At the very northern end is a newly constructed skateboard Park.
A new north-south path, from Bexley's Jeffrey park, on up to Easton Shopping center, is currently under construction, and is due to be finished around 2005. The 'Heritage Trail' is another 'rail trail' that runs northeastward from Hilliard for 8 miles into farmlands. A ride down this path is a good way to get a look at what Ohio farms look like.