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Press Release1/26/2022

COTA Board of Trustees Approves Pilot Program to Offer Discounted Fares to Low-Income Customers

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) Board of Trustees today approved a six-month pilot program that extends eligibility for transit discounts to individuals who receive public income assistance. Beginning March 1, the program will add low-income customers to those who already are eligible for 50% discounted fixed-route fares through COTA’s new account-based fare management system. Seniors, children, veterans and qualifying disabled customers currently are eligible for 50% discounted fares.

“This pilot program is a natural extension of COTA’s new equitable fare structure that seeks to ensure those who greatly rely on COTA mobility services have equal access,” said COTA President/CEO Joanna M. Pinkerton. “Our new digital payment system provides the infrastructure to expand access to reduced fares and this is the latest step to better help our customers who need our services the most.”

COTA will accept proof of participation in one of the following countywide programs:

  • SNAP food assistance;
  • Publicly funded childcare;
  • Ohio Works First cash assistance;
  • Prevention, Retention and Contingency emergency assistance; Medicaid;
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

All customers that participate in any one of the above referenced county-wide programs and are enrolled in the COTA pilot program will need to use COTA’s account-based system for fare payment. This discount will not apply to cash-paying customers who are not using COTA’s account-based system.

Eligible customers can apply for the discounted fares starting Tuesday, March 1 at COTA’s Customer Experience Center located at 33 North High Street in downtown Columbus. Customers will need to provide documentation showing proof of enrollment in one of the low-income assistance programs listed above. The documentation will need to include the customer’s name. Customer Experience Champions will be available to review documentation and verify eligibility for enrollment.

COTA will gather and analyze data during the six months of the pilot program before bringing recommendations to the Board of Trustees for a finalized low-income fare structure.