COTA bus driver Arlanda Lewis-Twum loves Columbus and she loves being in the know.
“I love talking and meeting with the public,” Twum said. “Knowing where everybody needs to go, best places to eat, happy hours, everything.”
She’s one of the first people that passengers leaving Port Columbus see when they leave the airport and head downtown, thanks to a new COTA service.
“There’s nothing like coming to a city and the first thing you get is a smile,” Twum said.
COTA’s new AirConnect service costs $2.75 and provides express service between the airport and the Greater Columbus Convention Center along with about 10 downtown hotels.
Jeff Brown of Clintonville was among the first to ride the new service Monday. He hopped on board after arriving back in Columbus from a business trip to Wisconsin.
“I’m thrilled with it,” Brown said. “It’s just about as easy as catching a cab, a lot cheaper and apparently it’s going to go right downtown on the freeway.”
Not everyone is thrilled. Cab drivers at the airport said they’ve already lost a big chunk of business over the past two years to Uber.
“Everything is changing,” said Tekie Ababu. Ababu has been driving a cab for about 20 years. He said cab drivers feel the city has abandoned them. “We’re honest, we’re working hard, we’ve got family, we’ve got mortgages and we pay taxes,” Ababu said. “But everything has changed.”
A ride from the airport to a downtown hotel typically costs about $15 through Uber. The same ride in a cab is $20 to $25.
Even so, hurried business travelers were still piling into cabs Monday evening. They told NBC4 they liked the added convenience of a cab and were not concerned about the money because it’s a business expense.
Clearly the bus is not for everyone but count Jeff Brown among those who will take the bus and who hope it’s successful.
“I suppose some people will never use the bus no matter how convenient or how cheap it is but I hope there is an audience that will use this.”
The new COTA AirConnect service runs every 30 minutes between 6am and 9pm.
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