C-pass Doubles Transit Ridership in Downtown Columbus

Survey results show that Downtown C-pass has doubled transit ridership for downtown employees eligible for the free transit program over a one-year period.  

Surveys of commuters and employers were conducted in May and June of 2019. The commuter survey shows ridership among the survey group increasing from 5 percent prior to June 1, 2018 to a current percentage of 10 percent to 14 percent in June 2019.

Launched on June 1, 2018, Downtown C-pass is a collaboration between Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District (CCSID), Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). It allows eligible companies in downtown Columbus to offer unlimited transit access for employees. There is no cost to employers or employees. All eligible employees have access to COTA’s bus service any day, any time for any type of trip.

The program, initiated and underwritten by downtown property owners, seeks to boost office leasing without additional parking and reduce employee turnover especially in low-wage jobs.

Other key findings from the survey respondents:
  • Commuter responses also show that 68 percent attributed C-pass for the reason they started using COTA.
  • People switching are most motivated by saving money (83% agree strongly), followed by convenience (50% agree strongly).
  • 52% of surveyed companies report knowing that employees had relinquished parking because they now take the bus.
  • New riders skew younger, 35% of people switching are 32 or younger, 83% are under 55.
  • New rider income levels are diverse: 20% make less than $49,999, 26% make $50,000 to $74,999, 19% make $75,000 to $99,999 and 19% make $100,000 a year or more.
  • C-pass saw the greatest adoption among people working downtown for less than a year (31%) and more than five years (28%).
  • 93% of new riders have access to a private vehicle.
  • 52% of surveyed companies report that C-pass has boosted employee morale.
  • 17 companies report C-pass impacting a decision to renew or sign a lease in a C-pass eligible building.
  • 27% of companies offer free parking, a policy that discourages mode change from driving to transit.


Other Downtown C-pass Stats:
  • Number of eligible downtown companies enrolled: 430 as of 8/12/19.
  • The 50 largest eligible employers enrolled in C-pass
  • More than 14,800 employees are registered for Downtown C-pass as of 8/12/2019.
  • C-pass users account for more than 25,000 weekly rides.
  • In April 2019, the most recent reporting update, total ridership on Rush Hour routes is up 28 percent over April 2018.
  • Over the course of a year, the people switching from driving to COTA will collectively save more than 350,000 gallons in fuel and prevent the emissions of approximately 6.8 million pounds of CO2.

CJI Research conducted a commuter survey and employer survey in May and June of 2019. A total of 129 participating companies completed employer surveys. A total of 2,655 employees completed commuter surveys. Surveys were sent to each company enrolled in C-pass and asked to send an online survey link to all employees, not just those enrolled in C-pass.