COTA refines its fixed route services on the first Monday of January, May and September of each year. In an effort to gather input from the public and to inform transit users of all such scheduled changes to the service, COTA will adhere to the following procedures.
- COTA will gather input continually from the public through telephone conversations, letters, e-mails, and regularly scheduled Community Outreach meetings. In addition, COTA may survey its users and employers/employees who have requested some modification to the transit service.
- Prior to finalizing any service change, COTA will conduct Community Outreach meetings in areas which will be most directly affected by the change. When a proposed change would eliminate a route or significantly reduce the span of service or frequency of service along a route, COTA will actively solicit and consider input from the affected area through neighborhood meetings and/or on-board surveys. A significant reduction in the span of service on a route is defined as the elimination of a time period (such as, midday service) or weekend service. A significant reduction in the frequency of service on a route is defined as a 100% increase or more in the headway of the route. A major service reduction is defined as a decrease in annualized service hours by more than 25% on a route.
- A minimum of four public meetings are held to solicit public input regarding potential service modifications. Two meetings are held approximately four months prior to the service change implementation date in order to encourage public feedback in a timely manner that facilitates potential modifications to the proposed service changes. A second set of two community outreach meetings are held to present the final list of modifications. A minimum of two meetings are held within a Title VI area.
- In the month prior to each service change, the modifications are presented to the full Board of Trustees for their information. Such meetings are open to the public.
- Bi-annually, COTA prepares an update to the schedule of service improvements for the next five years which will be included in the Short Range Transit Plan (SRTP). The service changes in the SRTP are then disseminated for discussion with MORPC’s Citizens Advisory, Transportation Advisory, and Policy committees.
This information is also shared with the COTA Advisory Panel (consisting of representatives from various local municipalities) and COTA Board of Trustees.
COTA generally disseminates information and solicits feedback on service options in a variety of ways as outlined below:
- Commuter bulletins posted at bus stops affected by a proposed service modification. Bulletins posted at bus stops include a description of the proposed modification, maps (if applicable), and instructions regarding how to provide feedback to COTA about the proposed changes. Commuter bulletins are also posted on COTA buses which indicate the routes that will be affected.
- Press releases identifying specific routes affected are forwarded to various media: newspaper, radio and TV stations.
- A Service Change Booklet describing each change is posted on COTA’s website.
- COTA operators pass out new public timetables on affected routes.
- Handouts describing the changes are passed out at the downtown express terminals and/or on selected trips, at the discretion of COTA.
- Any other activities deemed necessary by COTA.