Public transit in Columbus, Ohio

A High St. horsecar in 1888
A Parsons Ave. streetcar in 1948
A COTA CNG-fueled bus in 2020

Public transit has taken numerous forms in Columbus, the largest city and capital of Ohio. Transit has variously used passenger trains, horsecars, streetcars, interurbans, trolley coaches, and buses. Current service is through the Central Ohio Transit Authority's bus system, numerous intercity bus companies, and through bikeshare, rideshare, and electric scooter services.

Public transit began in Columbus with Union Station, built in 1851. The station was jointly operated by the Columbus and Xenia Railroad and the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad, making it the first union station in the world. Local mass transit efforts began three years later, in 1854, with the founding of the Columbus Street Railroad Company. It only began operating in 1863, utilizing a fleet of horsecars (horse-drawn streetcars). Electric streetcars began operation in the city in 1888. Meanwhile, subsequent rail stations were built in the city, including the third Union Station, completed in 1897. Streetcars and their longer-distance interurban counterparts became prolific around this time. In the 1930s, as automobiles grew in popularity and track maintenance suffered, the streetcars were all converted to trolleybuses, taking place from 1933 to 1948. Trolleybuses only operated until 1965, themselves replaced by diesel buses. With private bus operators losing profits, bus service in Columbus was transferred over to the public Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in 1974. Intercity rail permanently stopped serving Columbus in 1977. COTA operated traditional local bus service until the 2010s, when it began modernizing its fleet with compressed natural gas-fueled buses, redeveloped its route network, and added a downtown circulator, bus rapid transit line, wifi connectivity, contactless payments, and other modern amenities. Though resuming local or intercity rail has been proposed since the 1970s, Columbus is currently the largest city in the United States without any form of passenger rail service. Amtrak service to Columbus is proposed under the American Jobs Plan.[1]

  1. ^ Producer, Evan Sobol, Digital Content. "Amtrak announces 'Connects US' plan to grow rail services over next 15 years". FOX Carolina. Retrieved 2021-04-01."Invest in America. Invest in Amtrak". Amtrak Connects US. Retrieved 2021-04-01.