A few weeks ago while planning what type of adventures Astronaut Harrison and I would go on during Spring Break, I got an e-mail from COTA asking if we would like to visit their bus garage. To say that Harrison was excited when I told him the plan would be a major understatement.
First we checked out the bus stop outside for a few minutes, we made our way to the front offices to meet our tour guides. Harrison was promptly promoted from Astronaut Commander to Vice-President of the COTA Space Program by COTA staff (and he even got a COTA ID badge to make it official).
The first stop on our tour was the garage floor which had buses of all sizes getting worked on, including a few that were on bus lifts above our heads.
We watched the mechanics work and explored the shop floor for a few minutes, then we hopped on a bus to see the rest of the facility.
You know that feeling of joy you get when you get on a subway train and have the entire car to yourself? Multiply that by 100. That's how excited Harrison was to get his very own bus and bus route for the morning. The bus drove through the rest of the shop and out to the fueling facility where we got to explore a little more. Let me tell you, this is not your everyday gas station (and not just because they don't have a shop that sells snacks).
COTA busses run on compressed Natural Gas, and their fueling facility is the largest CNG station in Ohio. The area where the gas is held and compressed reminded me of something you would see outside of an astronauts Habitat on Mars.
After visiting the CNG facility, we hopped back on our bus and headed for our next stop - the bus wash! Just like a normal car wash, COTA has two bus wash bays that busses go through before entering the garage for service.
After going through the bus wash, Harrison wanted to get out and take closer look.
When we reached the last stop on our tour, our guide had a surprise for Harrison: a chance to sit in the driver's seat (he even got to honk the horn).
After he got to play bus driver, we visited the dispatcher's center to meet the people who work with bus drivers when they have issues during their routes. Harrison even got to check out one of the workstations to see what the operators do every day.
Harrison and I both had a great time, and we can not thank our friends at COTA and Geben Communications enough for inviting us to visit. With warmer weather (hopefully) around the corner, Harrison can't wait to get back to exploring Columbus by hopping on a COTA bus.