Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland RTA board’

Cleveland RTA Cuts Day Pass Prices

September 9, 2020

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board will reduce the price of a standard all-day pass from $5.50 to $5 on Oct. 4.

The agency’s board of trustee also voted last week to amend a policy change that would have increased single-trip fares next year.

Cutting the price of the all-day pass was a recommendation made in a 2019 rider study.

RTA expects to gain an additional 270,000 riders a year by lowering the all-day pass price, but at the same time lost $1.3 million in revenue.

The RTA trustees also approved a change whereby riders can purchase one- and two-trip fare cards that allow free transfers. Previously, these fares were only available in bulk.

The price of an all-day pass for seniors, the disabled and children will fall from $2.75 to $2.50.

Student all-day passes for those in grades K through 12 will be reduced from $4.50 to $4.25.

All-day paratransit passes will decline from $7.50 to $7

RTA Delays Cutting All-Day Pass Price

August 29, 2020

An expected fare increase policy surfaced this week during a meeting of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority trustees.

The trustees delayed taking action on a proposal to reduce the cost of cost of all-day pass after learning that the proposal also contains a policy change that could lead to a fare increase in October 2021.

RTA Deputy General Manager of Operations Floun’say Caver said the agency’s staff is recommending against the 2021 fare increase.

The fare increase is part of the proposal to reduce the price of an all-day pass from $5.50 to $5.

That proposal contains language calling for the all-day passes to return to their current price in October 2021 and for most other fares to rise from $2.50 to $2.75 for a single trip.

During their meeting, the trustees indicated they expect to amend the proposal to remove the fare increase language as well as implement the price cut for all-day passes.

Trustee Justin Bibb said he was “concerned that from a public perception perspective, it seems as if we’re also going to approve a potential increase in 2021.”

He said the trustees will consider any fare increases based on future ridership and economic data.

“We don’t want any misconception that in this vote today we’re going to be approving any potential future fare increase without that information,” he said.

Some trustee also expressed concern that they had not been told earlier about the possible fare increases.

“We have not had any discussion whatsoever that even gave the indication that this is even just, like, a placeholder,” said trustee Valerie McCall.

RTA General Manager India Birdsong said she supports delaying the vote until the fare proposal can be revised.

Birdsong called for RTA to issue a public statement “in the event this is misinterpreted by the public.

Caver had said it will take about a month to implement the fare changes once they are approved by the trustees.

He said the board of trustees will therefore need to act soon if the changes are to take effect on on Oct. 4 as planned.

Auditor Says RTA Trustee Was Paid Illegally

August 29, 2020

A member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority board of trustees was paid illegally Ohio Auditor Keith Faber said this week.

Faber said Valarie McCall, chief of government affairs for Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, received $57,200 over 12 years for her work at RTA.

The auditor said those payments were illegal and that those payments should be repaid.

“Ms. McCall was appointed as an employee of the city and in seeking payment, she was effectively receiving double compensation,” Faber said in a statement.

Faber’s announcement said Ohio law did not allow for McCall to receive a salary.

An attorney for McDall issued a statement in response saying it has compensated its board members for more than 30 years.

The statement said it is troubling that RTA authorized a stipend to Ms. McCall and then subsequently raised the matter with the Ohio Auditor.

McCall was appointed an RTA trustee on July 12, 2006, and her “appointment letter” stated that she would not receive any compensation.

However, McCall asked in 2014 to receive the annual board member compensation of $400 a month and sought retroactive pay for the time she spent as trustee.

Although she received pay for her RTA work, the agency stopped paying her in 2018. McCall still serves as an RTA trustee.

In a statement, RTA said it supports the auditor’s findings and is awaiting repayment of the money it paid McCall. It also said it has changed its policies to prevent any recurrence of such a situation.

Faber’s office has ordered Joe Calabrese, who served at the time as the board’s secretary/treasurer, his bonding company, and then-board President George Dixon to repay the money because Calabrese and Dixon approved the illegal payments.

Neither Calabrese and Dixon are still with RTA.

Dixon was also the subject of separate proceeding in which Faber’s office issued a finding of recovery for $132,000 from him stemming from his having pleaded guilty to theft in office in December 2019.

He had been charged with underpaying RTA for his health-care coverage and was ordered last January by a court to pay the $132,000 in restitution.

RTA Rail Lines to Shut Down for Rail Replacement

June 25, 2020

A track work project will result in buses replacing trains on the Blue and Green lines starting June 28.

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority officials said rail replacement is being undertaken between East 55th Street and Woodhill on a section of track used by both routes.

The work is expected to last through Aug. 8.

During the interim, A 67R bus route will serve stations on both lines between Tower City in downtown Cleveland and Van Aken Boulevard (Blue Line) and Green Road (Green Line).

The 67R bus route will not make stops at the train stations at East 55th Street or the Campus District station.

Riders wishing to get off at those stations are being directed to ride Red Line trains.

The 67R buses will make additional stops at Woodland-East 55th Street and Woodland-East 79th Street. The Tower City stop will be on West Huron at West 3rd Street.

Orange 67R bus signs will be place at bus stops. During the track work project 67R buses will be fare free.

Waterfront Line rail service will operate every 30 minutes during this shutdown.

RTA said regular Green and Blue line service is expected to resume at the start of the service day on Aug. 9.

The transit agency also said it has posted new schedules for several routes due to summer service change that take effect on June 28.

In an related matter, Cleveland RTA’s board of trustees has spurned a call by Clevelanders for Public Transit to divert some funds from the agency’s police budget toward increased service and fare reductions.

The advocacy group also demanded that RTA stop having its police officers engage in fare enforcement.

In a statement, the trustees said RTA police engage in many activities other than fare enforcement, including seeking to prevent robberies and assaults.

Thus far in 2020, RTA police have cited 50 people for fare evasion and cited 119 in 2019 and 259 in 2018.

The statement also noted that crime at RTA properties has fallen 65 percent between 2012 and 2019.

RTA police have received de-escalation and racial bias/sensitivity training and officers have been restricted in using choke holds when using force to subdue or detain suspects.

Board President Dennis Clough said during a Tuesday trustees meeting that trustees have asked RTA to provide more data about the services transit police provide, but the board is not interested “in diminishing the safety of our riders or all the other jobs that our police department does.”

Clough said the board would consider using civilian staff for fare enforcement if the RTA administration recommends it.

During a public comment session of the meeting, 10 speakers said addressed the board via online connections on the matter with one person saying or so people during a public comment period at Tuesday morning’s board meeting, conducted remotely with the public able to watch via Facebook and submit questions or comments online.

One commented that law enforcement efforts “tend to systematically target and harass Black riders.”

RTA Police Chief John P. Joyce said RTA recently updated its policy in regards to use of force by officers and the force will expedite a planned purchase of body-worn cameras from 2021 to “as soon as possible.”

2 Cleveland RTA Board Members Re-Elected

March 26, 2020

Two members of the board of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will continue in their posts for another year.

Re-elected for one-year terms were Dennis Clough president, and Charles Lucas, vice president.

Clough and Lucas have served in their respective positions since 2018.

Clough is mayor of Westlake and was appointed to the RTA board by the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association in 1999. He served as board vice president in 2011.

Lucas, vicar of St. James AME Church in Cleveland, joined the board in 2016 and was reappointed in 2018 for his second three-year term.

He is the chairman of the board’s Organizational, Services and Performance Monitoring Committee.

Cleveland RTA Ridership Down by Half

March 25, 2020

Thus far the Greater Cleveland Transit Authority largely has resisted curtailing service in the wake of the COVID-19 virus.

It did suspend the downtown trolley service and closed several park and ride lots but has continued to operate its full complement of weekday bus and train schedules.

But in the face of losing about half of its ridership RTA may have to begin reducing service because of the financial losses it is incurring.

RTA’s Deputy General Manager of Finance and Administration Rajan Gautam said the agency has seen a 30 percent drop in fare revenues.

However, its greatest concern is losing sales tax revenue because that is RTA’s largest source of income.

Gautam said RTA is trying to project how much it will lose in sale tax revenue in the coming months.

The agency has been able to weather the pandemic thus far from having ended 2019 with about two months’ worth of operating reserves, which Gautham said will help offset the lost revenue.

RTA held its March board meeting behind closed doors due to the pandemic but live streamed the meeting on Facebook.

“We want to get ahead of the curve in terms of the financial impact and what’s going to be our strategy to come out of it,” board member Justin Bibb said. “We’re taking a huge financial hit.”

In the meantime Clevelanders for Public Transit is asking RTA to suspend fare collection during the pandemic.

The advocacy group noted that transit agencies in Akron, Canton, Youngstown and Toledo have begun offering free rides during the pandemic.

Other demands made by the group during the board meeting include having passengers board buses from the rear to minimize the chances of exposure to the virus between them and bus drivers.

The group also asked RTA to block off for occupancy some seats on trains and buses so that passengers can practice social distancing.

RTA spokeswoman Linda Scardilli Krecic told that RTA is not considering suspending fare collection.

The agency does plan to post notices notices and play audio messages aboard buses to remind riders to maintain physical distance from each other and avoid talking to drivers unless they stand behind a yellow line on RTA vehicles.

She said riders can exit buses through the rear door, but they cannot board through the rear door.

New Members Appointed to Cleveland RTA Board

December 12, 2019

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority announced that five new members have been appointed to its governing board.

David Weiss, the mayor of Shaker Heights, was elected by the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association to fill a term previously held by Georgine Welo, mayor of South Euclid. His term will begin March 3, 2020.

The Cleveland City Council also appointed Luz Pellot to fill a seat vacated by Kelley Britt that expires March 3, 2020. Pellot is a business systems analyst with Xerox Corp.

Cleveland city officials have also appointed to the RTAboard Valarie McCall, the city’s chief of communications, government and international affairs; Leo Serrano, executive director of Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Office of Institutional Advancement; and Charles Lucas, board vice president and pastor emeritus at St. James AME Church.