New COTA buses improve air quality, ride experience

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (10TV) -- The City of Columbus got a little greener Monday with the release of 28 new COTA buses, aimed at improving the quality of riders’ commutes as well as the air they breathe.

The “New Flyer” buses run on cleaner fuel as part of COTA’s goal to be 100 percent diesel-free by the year 2025.

“What we’re using is compressed natural gas and that burns cleaner and it’s better for the environment and it’s also cost-efficient,” said Jeff Pullin, public information officer for COTA.

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To reach that goal, the agency will release 28 new buses each year.

As of right now, COTA tells 10TV they are right on track with reaching 50 percent diesel-free by the end of 2019.

But the “New Flyer” buses are not solely focused on environmental concerns. The buses are also designed to improve rider experience.

COTA is experiencing a three percent increase in ridership and wants to keep the momentum going, Pullin said.

In addition to a smoother, quieter ride and sleeker appearance, the “New Flyer” buses also make onboarding easier for wheelchairs and include stroller stations for passengers with young children.

For commuters, along with WIFI on the buses, the new fleet also includes USB charging ports for passengers to charge their electronic devices while they work.

“We’re always looking for ways to make it easier for the riding experience for our customers,” Pullin said. “And if we can do things that can help them continue their work while they're on and off the bus with our free WIFI or our charging ports then that's great and if we can make this ride smoother then we're happy to do that as well.”

The new buses cost $537,308 but Pullin tells 10TV that COTA seeks federal grants for 80 percent of the cost.

Read more about the buses and find a route nearest you here.