Shared from the 10/29/2020 The Columbus Dispatch eEdition

More locations to fill COTA cards for fares

A new program will give Central Ohio Transit Authority riders more than 400 locations to buy and refill fare cards and phones with money for fares beginning in late 2021.

The COTA board on Wednesday approved authorizing a contract with Masabi LLC for the program, which will cost up to $1.5 million to implement. A state grant of $1.25 million is picking up most of the cost.

The new program will allow riders the ability to buy and add values to smart cards and mobile devices at more retail locations, said Angel Mum-ma, COTA’s chief financial officer. Paper passes will still be available at some of those, she said.

Today, COTA has only 42 such locations, COTA spokesman Patrick Harris said.

The new system also will be able to track how much riders have spent per month so they can get the best fares. For example, if a rider pays $2 for each ride and hits $62 – the cost of a 31-day pass – they won’t be charged for the rest of the month, Mumma said.,what is called “fare-capping.”

“It will get us to a place where our customers that can only pay by cash are not harmed financially,” Mumma said.

“Ultimately, our goal is to push most people to use smart card and mobile apps,” she said.

Masabi was chosen after COTA put out a request for proposal and talked to three companies, Mumma said.

Also, the board voted to extend the Downtown C-pass program through Dec. 31, 2025.

The C-pass program allows eligible Downtown workers to ride COTA buses anywhere for free. It is funded by property owners within the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

The property owners pay $702,000 annually into the program, while MORPC pays $677,000, said Marc Conte, the special improvement district’s executive director.

According to COTA, 447 Downtown companies with 13,450 employees were enrolled in C-pass before COTA suspended fares March 19 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The special improvement district board and the regional planning commission still need to vote on extending the program.


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