The new COTA park-and-ride facility on Forest Drive is one component of SmartRide New Albany, a new initiative which includes shuttle service to and from companies in area business parks.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority’s park-and-ride facility and SmartRide New Albany shuttle service to New Albany’s business parks have been up and running since Sept. 2.

COTA is running six buses from 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. from downtown Columbus and the Easton transit center to the park-and-ride facility on Forest Drive.

Joseph Stefanov, New Albany’s city manager, said the buses not only are bringing workers into the city, but they also are transporting New Albany residents to other places.

The shuttles, meanwhile, are meant to maximize transportation options for local employees.

New Albany is paying PSI of Columbus $140,000 through the end of 2014 to operate three SmartRide shuttles to and from the business parks.

The contract with PSI runs through the end of 2015 but the annual payment could change if the city decided to purchase its own shuttles, for example.

The shuttle service is free with a paid COTA fare, which is $2.75 one way or $5.50 for two rides, if paid in advance. Monthly unlimited COTA trips are $85 for adults.

The shuttles operate from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 3:15 to 5:30 p.m.

Westbound shuttles follow Walton Parkway and New Albany Road, with stops at Aetna and iQor, Discover Financial Services, CVG, the Water’s Edge campus, the New Albany Signature office building and Tween Brands.

Shuttles running east follow Smith’s Mill Road, with stops at the Mount Carmel New Albany Surgical Hospital, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bob Evans headquarters and to several businesses in what is now known as the New Albany International Personal Care and Beauty Campus: the Knowlton Development Corp., Sonoco Plastics, Axium Plastics, Vee Pak and Accel.

Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany’s community-development director, said the name was changed to include the word international after city officials realized many companies are exporting items, others have their international headquarters in New Albany and many foreign companies have a regional headquarters or the only United States location on the campus.

“It seemed OK to market ours as a place where international businesses could locate,” Chrysler said.

In addition, Forest Drive and Woodcrest Way, both east of Johnstown Road in New Albany, have other new additions in the works, including the city’s second hotel, a Hampton Inn, being built north of the Courtyard by Marriott on Woodcrest Way.

Stefanov said the Hampton Inn could be open in 2015.

The planning commission was expected Sept. 14 to review plans for a Turkey Hill gas station at the southeast corner of Johnstown Road and Woodcrest Way. Richard Roggenkamp, vice president of First Intercontinental Realty Corp., said the store will have 10 gasoline pumps and a car wash on two acres.

Chrysler said the land east of Johnstown Road was identified in the 2006 version of the city’s strategic plan as a key part of the business parks.

Stefanov said the New Albany Road East corridor developed first because it was close to many residential areas.

He said development of eastern New Albany might have been delayed by the recession but many businesses have located in the International Personal Care and Beauty Campus in the past few years.

Chrysler said businesses require retail amenities for their employees but there has to be a certain number of employees to frequent retail sites before businesses want to build.

She said the city has those employees now. An estimated 13,000 people will be working in the business parks by the end of 2014 and 14,000 by the end of 2015.

The city’s calculations include campuses on the east and west sides of the city, north of state Route 161, and State Farm Insurance and the EMH&T engineering company, both of which are in Columbus on New Albany Road East.

She said the latter two businesses were included because city officials consider them part of a business region that the city shares with Columbus.

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