Columbus, Ohio, Innovation Officer's Transportation Board Appointment Will Help Align Smart Columbus Efforts With Other Mobility Options

The Central Ohio Transit Authority will be working closely with the Smart Columbus effort to evolve area transportation.

by Kimball Perry, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio / June 28, 2017

(TNS) -- Michael Stevens was sworn in Wednesday as COTA's newest board member.

Stevens' appointment comes as the Central Ohio Transit Authority and Smart Columbus seek to work together better to take advantage of technology as public transportation evolves.

Michael Stevens, 45, of Dublin, is the city of Columbus chief innovation officer.

"I want to help align Smart Columbus efforts with other mobility options," Stevens said.

Smart Columbus is the partnership between city government and local business leaders that beat out 77 U.S. cities to win a $40 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant to help residents move around more easily and faster through the use of technology. Columbus also won a $10 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to reduce greenhouse emissions. Smart Columbus so far has received pledges of an additional $600 million in projects and money. It's goal is $1 billion.

"I intend to continue to improve the dialogue" between COTA and Smart Columbus, Stevens said, "and improve communications."

Some of the projects Smart Columbus has been helping COTA on include securing Wi-Fi on COTA buses and allowing electronic fare collection from smart phones. COTA plans to sign by July 1 a "cooperative agreement" that includes all Smart Columbus projects.

Stevens' appointment also comes as COTA's board seeks a replacement for Curtis Stitt, COTA CEO and president. Stitt announced in May he will retire in September and help the board select his successor.

Stevens was appointed to a three-year term on COTA's board. It was approved May 22 by Columbus City Council. He replaces Brett Kaufman, who resigned in December 2016 from a term that expired this April.

COTA board members are not paid.

©2017 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.