Increasing access to our mobility solutions
New Income Assistance Program
Six-Month Pilot Effective March 1, 2022
To increase access to COTA’s services for our customers who need them most, we are excited to release a six-month pilot initiative called the Income Assistance Program. Through this program, eligible customers will have access to half-price fares.
If you have participated in any of the following countywide programs in the last 12 months, then you could be eligible for discount fares:
- SNAP food assistance
- Publicly funded childcare
- Ohio Works First cash assistance
- Prevention, Retention and Contingency emergency assistance
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
To claim this discount, customers must bring proof of participation in one of the above programs to COTA’s Customer Experience Center (33 N. High St.). One of our friendly Customer Care Advocates will help you set up a COTA account with your discount.
Any customer who wishes to participate in our Income Assistance Program must use COTA’s account-based payment system via either the Transit app or a COTA Smartcard. This new technology allows COTA to track how often you ride to ensure that you are never charged more than $2.25 per day or $31 per calendar month.
Questions? We can help!
What is the Income Assistance Program?
How do I enroll in this program?
Who qualifies for this program?
What qualifies as proper documentation to receive the discount?
- SNAP food assistance
- Publicly funded childcare
- Ohio Works First (OWF) cash assistance
- Prevention, Retention and Contingency (PRC) emergency assistance
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
How do I obtain “proper documentation” to receive COTA’s income assistance discount?
- If you receive income assistance from one of the six county-wide programs, you should have received a verification letter in the mail. Simply bring that letter to COTA’s Customer Experience Center and receive your fare discount.
- You can also log on or create an account at https://benefits.ohio.gov to obtain verification. Go to My Benefits which shows your name and the income assistance you receive. Either print or take a screenshot of that page and bring it to COTA’s Customer Experience Center.
- You also can log on to the benefits website using your smartphone and show it to the COTA Customer Experience Representative during the application process.
What if I do not have my FCJFS income assistance verification letter and do not have computer access?
After enrolling in the program, how do customers receive the discount?
Will I be able to pay cash at the fare box if I qualify for the Income Assistance Program?
- Load cash onto your Transit app account using a credit or debit card.
- Visit COTA.com and log into your account and add funds using a credit or debit card.
- Visit one of 300+ retail locations across COTA’s service area to load cash onto the Transit app or Smartcard.
Why do customers need to use the Transit app or Smartcard to use this service?
By using the new digital payment system, customers will also be able to take advantage of fare capping. That means that, with the Income Assistance Discount, customers who qualify will never pay more than $2.25 per day or $31 during a calendar month.
What happens when the six-month pilot program ends?
Are there other options besides applying at the COTA Customer Experience Center?
|COTA Income Assistance Pop-Up Locations|
|Tuesday, March 1||11 a.m. to 4 p.m.||COTA Customer Experience Center||33 N. High St.|
|Thursday, March 3||11 a.m. to 4 p.m.||Columbus Metropolitan Library — Hilltop Branch||511 S. Hague Ave.|
|Friday, March 4||11 a.m. to 4 p.m.||Columbus Metropolitan Library — Whitehall Branch||4445 E. Broad St.|
|Monday, March 7||11 a.m. to 4 p.m.||Columbus Metropolitan Library — Parsons Branch||1113 Parsons Ave.|
|Wednesday, March 9||11 a.m. to 4 p.m.||Columbus Metropolitan Library — Northern Lights Branch||4093 Cleveland Ave.|
|Saturday, March 19||10 a.m. to 5 p.m.||YMCA Van Buren Shelter||595 Van Buren Drive|
|Wednesday, March 23||9 a.m. to 1 p.m.||Our Lady of Guadalupe Center||409 Industry Drive|
Standard Discount Programs
To help ensure that more people are able to get to and from their destinations, we offer discounted fares to select groups. This includes riders with disabilities, seniors, students and others.
Persons eligible for half-price fares include:
- People 65 years of age or older. A Senior ID is valid for three years and requires only a photo ID with your birth date.
- Persons with disabilities who are, according to Federal and State law, “unable without special facilities or special planning or design to utilize public transportation facilities and services effectively.” [49 USC 1608 (c)(4), Section 99206.5, CA PUC]. Learn more about accessibility for disabled riders.
- Medicare card holders who have a Key ID, which can be acquired by presenting a Medicare card, a photo ID and by completing the reduced fare application.
- Present your Veteran ID Card (VIC) to the Guest Services counter in the Customer Experience Center. The discount card is valid for two years. To learn more, read the discount fare brochure.
- Enrolled students at The Ohio State University, Capital University, Columbus College of Art and Design, and students attending Columbus City Schools, who have an ID displaying the COTA logo. Students must be currently enrolled and swipe a valid ID when boarding the bus. To get more details, read about our student discounts.
|Fare Option||Regular Fares||Reduced Rate Fares|
|Standard and Frequent||$2.00||$1.00|
|Transfers||No fare*||No fare|
|With ADA Card||No fare||No fare|
*Transfers are available upon request and are valid for up to two hours.