Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland public transit’

RTA Eyes Grant for New Rail Cars

December 17, 2022

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will seek grant funding next year that management said could enable it to buy new rail cars.

RTA Chief Operating Officer Floun’say Caver told The Plain Dealer, that the agency has raised $209 million in cash and grants in its rail car replacement fund.

Next month it will seek a $100 million grant in funds being provided by the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that would enable it to reach its $300 million goal.

However, it will likely be up to five years before the new cars begin revenue service and the agency still has not identified a builder for the equipment.

RTA is seeking proposals from transit car vendors and continues to talk with them. The deadline for bids is March 9.

Caver said the earliest the RTA governing board would likely vote on a contract for building the new cars is next fall.

RTA also is seeking $50 million in grants from  the federal government and Ohio Department of Transportation to be used to develop a bus rapid transit route that would operate along West 25th Street from Detroit Avenue and Irishtown Bend Park to Old Brooklyn.

The agency also will seek funding to help pay for up to 10 new electric buses while replacing 20 more buses next year.

RTA recently reported that fare revenue this year has posted a modest gain but is still below what it was before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

In another development, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s All Stations Accessibility Program awarded $8 million to RTA for improvement of a rail station.

This includes the East 79th Street rail station on the Blue/Green lines, which will bring it into compliance with standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The project also will include upgrades to lighting, cameras, and emergency call boxes, and the addition of new seating, bike racks, and signs.

RTA Expects to Gain Riders From Gas Price Surges

March 11, 2022

Sharply increasing gasoline prices are presenting opportunities and challenges for public transit agencies.

Although higher fuel costs may prompt higher ridership it also leads to higher costs for bus fuel.

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority operating officer Floun’say Caver told WJW-TV that the agency expect spikes in ridership on buses and trains due to rising gasoline prices.

 “I think that we could start to see ourselves get back in the 20 to 25 percent increase,” Caver said.

That would go a long way toward helping RTA regain ridership lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Caver said RTA experienced a similar situation in 2008 during another round of gasoline price surges.

However, RTA also had to pay millions more than expected in fuel costs. RTA has since begun buying fuel in advance to avoid the shock of price fluctuations.

In the meantime, RTA is increasing its promotional efforts on social media to seek to draw new riders.

The public transit agency said it is prepared to add buses or trains to busy routes if needed to keep up with ridership increases.

Ohio Public Transit to Get $1.3B Over 5 Years

February 14, 2022

Ohio public transit agencies are expected to share in $1.3 billion in federal funding over the next five years from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The funding is expected to be released in stages with $260 million being allocated in federal fiscal year 2022.

Of the FY2022 funding, $73.5 million will be available immediately with the remaining money released later this year.

Cleveland will receive $22 million while Akron will get $3 million.

Cleveland RTA Board Elects New Officers

March 27, 2021

The board of trustees of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has elected new officers.

Board members elected the Rev. Charles Lucas as president and attorney Karen Gabriel Moss as vice president. Each will serve a one-year term.

An appointee of the city of Cleveland, Lucas succeeds former President Dennis Clough, the mayor of Westlake, who announced in October 2020 that he would not seek reelection once his term expired March 3, 2021.

An appointee of Cuyahoga County, Moss joined the board in March 2011. She is a practicing partner at Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper.

The three-year term of board member Justin Bibb has expired. He joined the board in October 2018.

Cleveland RTA Appoints New Deputy General Manager

February 25, 2021

Natoya Walker Minor has been appointed deputy general manager of administration and external affairs of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

She has 30 years of experience in external affairs and public administration, most recently as the chief of public affairs for the city of Cleveland.

Minor will begin her job at RTA on March 8.

Her duties will include providing strategic leadership, policy and operational direction for multiple city departments since 2006, GCRTA officials said in a news release.

Cleveland RTA Eyes Standardized Rail Car Fleet

February 5, 2021
Two Greater Cleveland RTA Blue Line trains pass in June 2013.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is eyeing a standardized type of light-rail car for use on all rail lines of its network.

The move, which was reported by rail passenger advocacy group All Aboard Ohio on its website, is part of a request for proposals for replacement cars.

Cleveland RTA is looking to spend $350 million to buy 40 to 45 cars to replace its aging fleet, a process that is expected to be done in two phases.

Currently, RTA uses cars built by Tokyu on the Red Line between East Cleveland and Cleveland Hopkins Airport via downtown.

Those cars, which were delivered in 1984-1985 would be replaced first because they have substantially deteriorated.

The Green, Blue and Waterfront lines use cars built by Breda that were delivered in 1980-81.

Although those cars are older, they have held up better than the Red Line cars.

RTA is reportedly seeking a type of car that serves both low and high-level platforms.

The Red Line has high-level platforms whereas all other rail lines have low-level platforms.

Stations at East 34th, East 55th and Tower City have both types of platforms.

Americans With Disabilities Act standards require transit platforms to be the same height or within 2 inches of a train car’s floor. Rail car doorways must be no farther than 4 inches from the edge of the platform.

This means whatever type of car RTA buys must be adaptable in use to varying platform heights or all of the agency’s station platforms must be modified to be a uniform height.

The two types of rail cars used by RTA have different specifications for floor height and doorway width.

There are transit rail cars in use today in the United States that are capable of adapting to varying platform sizes.

AAO’s report, which cited unnamed RTA officials, said it isn’t clear if the agency will move to standardize platform dimensions or seek rail cars that can adapt to platforms of varying heights.

The report said RTA’s may make that decision based on the responses it gets from its request for proposals. Cost may be the deciding issue.

One advantage of a standardized rail car fleet would be the ability to run direct service from the Blue and Green lines to Hopkins Airport.

Currently, passengers originating on the Blue or Green lines must change cars at either 55th Street or Tower City to get to Hopkins.

Cleveland RTA Names New Manager

February 3, 2021

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has named Mark Petit to be deputy general manager of innovation and technology.

He most recently served as chief information officer for the City of Akron where as a member of the mayor’s cabinet he led several city initiatives involving staffing, operations, applications, infrastructure, compliance and security.

An RTA news release said Petit, who was chosen in a national search, has more than 30 years of experience leading technology teams and initiatives in the private and public sectors.

Petit, who started at RTA on Feb. 1, also led cyber security programs including threat prevention and mitigation, as a member of the leadership team of the Summit County executive’s office.

He earned a degree in business administration and marketing from the University of Akron.

Downtown Group Pushes Revival of RTA Rail Loop Plan

January 17, 2021

A downtown Cleveland group is trying to revive the idea of creating a rail loop by extending the Waterfront Line southward to connect with the Red Line.

The business oriented group Campus District recently wrote to Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority CEO India Birdsong endorsing the idea and trying to get the transit agency to revive it.

The idea is not new. A planning document issued in 2000 described such as extension that would run along East 17th Street between Playhouse Square and the Cleveland State University campus and pass through the downtown Cuyahoga Community College campus before connecting with the Red Line at East 34th Street.

Campus District is seeking to portray the loop as a throwback to the streetcar era that ended in downtown Cleveland in 1954.

The proposed downtown loop also has been endorsed by All Aboard Ohio, a rail passenger advocacy group that also supports public transit.

Campus District Executive Director Mark Lammon said the current RTA rail system needs better access to downtown.

 “It’s not a circle,” he said. “We lack some downtown stations and it goes right through our neighborhood.”

An RTA official indicated the agency is not opposed to the idea but views other needs as having a high priority.

These include a large scale and expensive plan to replace the system’s existing rail cars.

Lammon acknowledges that much has changed in the 20 years since the downtown loop rail line was proposed.

But he believes that although some of the same metrics of the 2000 study are valid today, “what you’re plugging into the study would be radically different from what was in 2000.”

He noted that there are more residents and apartment buildings downtown than there were two decades ago. Some downtown warehouses are now being transformed into apartments and office space.

Lammon also pointed to the success of RTA’s bus rapid transit Health Line on Euclid Avenue as showing that huge investments follow transit upgrades.

RTA has estimated that the Health Line, which cost $110 million to develop, led to $9.5 billion in economic development along Euclid Avenue.

 “This could be something that changes the look and feel of our neighborhood and all of downtown in a lifetime,” Lammon said.

Cleveland RTA Expects up to $60M in Pandemic Aid

January 16, 2021

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will receive up to $60 million in emergency aid from legislation approved last month by Congress.

The COVID-19 relief package earmarked $14 billion for public transit agencies.

RTA’s share of the most recent aid bill will be about less than half of what it received from the CARES Act approved by Congress last March.

However, RTA Deputy General Manager of Engineering and Project Management Mike Schipper said any money the agency receives in emergency aid will be helpful in making up losses of fare and sales tax revenue.

RTA ridership is about half of its normal levels as many workers have been working from home rather than going in to an office on most days.

Schipper said RTA expects it will take most of 2021 for the agency to recover lost ridership and revenue.

He said RTA will receive its emergency funding to cover cover the cost of enhanced cleaning and other expenses brought on by the pandemic.

That funding plus money received from the CARES Act should enable RTA to have financial stability for the next two years.

If Congress passes another stimulus plan as president-elect Joseph Biden has proposed, Schipper said that could help carry RTA through 2023.

Cleveland RTA Releases Details on Bus Network Revamp

December 26, 2020

A new route network recently made public by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will realign many bus routes with some gaining increased service and others being eliminated.

The new network, which will be implemented in June 2021, seeks to reduce or eliminate duplicate routes and repurpose some equipment.

The revamping generally sought to give priority to routes that serve major employers and education and health-care institutions.

As a result some routes will now have 15-minute headways and in some cases the need for transfers will be reduced. A headway is the time between scheduled bus runs.

RTA officials said in introducing the plan that it will provide better links between Cleveland and its suburbs by doubling the number of people who live within a half mile of a 15-minute service route.

Routes that will offer weekday 15-minute headways include West 25th Street, Lorain Avenue, Detroit Avenue, St. Clair Avenue, Superior Avenue, Euclid Avenue, Kinsman Road, East 105th Street, and the Union-Harvard route.

The change in service will largely end service with 20-, 40- or 45-minute headways in favor of 15- 30- or 60-minutes headways.

RTA will assign regular buses to areas now served by specialty Park-N-Ride buses and most downtown trolleys.

Park-N-Ride riders will still be able to park at lots in North Olmsted, Westlake and Strongsville and ride a bus to downtown Cleveland but there will no longer be stand-alone commuter service.

Instead the Park-N-Ride routes are being integrated into regular bus routes along Clifton Boulevard, and Pearl and Tiedeman roads.

The transit agency backed away from ending all downtown trolleys in favor of regular but frequent bus service, changing its mind in the face of public opposition.

RTA will continue offering a modified B-Line trolley route that includes service to the Warehouse District.

Other changes that RTA made in response to public comment include retaining current daytime service levels to the route between East 79th Street, Slavic Village and Steelyard Commons, the route that serves East 55th Street north of the rapid station, the Buckeye Road route, and the Prospect-Cedar avenues route.

It also retained the No. 81 route via West 25th Street and the link between the East 55th Street rapid station and the Slavic Village/Newburgh Heights area.

RTA officials said it will take about six months to change signs and bus route numbers as well as provide information to riders about the pending changes.