Transit Pass Program

By Cass Freeland | 31 Mar, 2017

Property owners representing more than 60 percent of the properties in the Capital Crossroads SID signed a petition to place a transit assessment on their property to help pay for an employee transit pass program. Primary goals are to alleviate the downtown parking shortage and create change in commuting habits for the Downtown workforce.

Owners of office, hotel, retail and restaurant properties agreed to assess themselves an additional 3 cents per square foot, which will help fund a program that offers free, unlimited access to COTA buses for employees who work inside the boundaries of Capital Crossroads SID. To close the funding gap, the SID needs to secure additional funding such as local and federal grants.

The total cost of program, including its planning and development costs, is approximately $5 million. The program is set to run from June 1, 2018 through December 31, 2020.

A pilot program funded by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) demonstrated that a transit incentive will help relieve parking pressures in the core of downtown.   The pilot program involved 844 employees at four companies.   All were given the opportunity to request free transit passes.  In the first three months, the pilot program resulted in a doubling of COTA ridership, from 6.4 to 12.2%.   When applied to all 41,000 employees in the SID, the program is expected to open 2,500 parking spaces.

Seattle and Boulder have addressed similar parking problems with transit programs, with tremendous success. Transit use by downtown commuters in Boulder grew from 5% to 30%.   Downtown Seattle added 45,000 jobs from 2010 through 2016 with an increase in single-occupancy vehicles of only 2,255.