Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland RTA Waterfront Line’

Waterfront Line Suspension Extended Indefinitely

September 9, 2021

A Waterfront line car climbs the incline to cross the Norfolk Southern Tracks in downtown Cleveland in September 2017.

Service on the Cleveland RTA Waterfront line has been suspended indefinitely due to the closing of a bridge that spans the Norfolk Southern tracks just east of the Cuyahoga River.

It is the latest setback for the 2.2-mile line, which saw service suspended for several months last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then shut down again last October due to a track rehabilitation project at Tower City.

RTA said in a statement that a consulting firm found that the bridge needs four interim support towers to stabilize the structure.

These would be considered a temporary fix until a permanent solution to the problem is found and implemented.

The consulting firm had found in a 2018 inspection that the bridge has stress fractures. At the time, RTA responded by limiting traffic on the bridge to one train at a time.

Hardesty & Hanover, which conducted the inspection, recommended that RTA not use the bridge until it is permanently fixed, a process expected to take two years.

RTA has awarded an emergency contract for the support towers with that work expected to be finished in late October.

The most recent inspection of the bridge was conducted this past summer ahead of what RTA expected to a resumption of service on the Waterfront Line.

Hardesty & Hanover has begun design work on a permanent solution fix for the bridge, which RTA expects to pay for with $6 million in federal funding granted by the Federal Transit Administration.

The service suspension means RTA will not be able to provide service directly to FirstEnergy Stadium this year for Cleveland Browns games.

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.

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 to Suspend Waterfront Line Until Spring

October 24, 2020

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will suspend service on its Waterfront Line on Oct. 26 due to track work near the Tower City station.

There will be no replacement bus service provided during the service suspension.

The suspension affects six stations in the Flats and along the waterfront of Lake Erie, including FirstEnergy Stadium and two museums.

RTA last April cut Waterfront Line service by 15 percent as ridership plunged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The transit agency said ridership on the Waterfront Line has been on average less than one rider per trip since mid March.

Agency spokeswoman Linda Scardilli Krecic decline to provide a per-passenger cost of operating the Waterfront Line even thought RTA uses such figures to measure the effectiveness of its bus lines.

She said it was “impossible” for RTA to calculate the per-passenger cost of operating the Waterfront Line without commissioning a study because the route is an extension of the Green and Blue light rail lines.

RTA only tracks overall rail system expenses rather than costs associated with portions of a particular line, Scardilli Krecic said.

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.”

Stranded RTA Trains Anger Browns Fans

September 23, 2019

First their beloved Browns lost and then some fans got stuck for hours on Waterfront Line trains that had lost power.

Cleveland news media reported today that numerous riders took to social media to express their displeasure at having no air conditioning aboard crowded transit cars.

“It was jam packed, shoulder to shoulder, a lot of people were drunk,” passenger Nick Szabados told WJW-TV. “Finally started taking off, and the tram just shuts off. The lights shut off, the air conditioning cuts out, and it stops moving.”

Fans said on Twitter said RTA personnel didn’t seem to be around and were slow to explain what was happening.

The stalled trains occurred following a Sunday night game at First Energy Stadium in which the Browns lost to the visiting Los Angeles Rams 20-13.

The Waterfront line runs just outside the stadium.

Reports from RTA passengers indicated that the power loss occurred just west of the West Third Street station.

Szabados said a passenger forced the doors open in an attempt to get some cooler air.

RTA police officers escorted many passengers back along the tracks to the Third Street station.

Many passengers then walked to Tower City Center to board other trains to continue on to their destination.

One post on Reddit said that some passengers were still stranded aboard transit cars at 2:37 a.m.

It didn’t help that it was a warm and humid evening even around midnight.

A fan Tweated that he was still standing on the platform for the Red Line 45 minutes after the game ended.

Both WJW and WEWS-TV reported in stories posted to their websites that they had sought comment from RTA officials but had yet to hear back.

On Twitter RTA issued an apology and said the problem occurred because a train lost power at the West Third station and two other trains that tried to  nudge that train along also lost power.

Several Twitter uses expressed anger about the slow reaction from RTA officials and lack of information.

“Customer service was lacking on the stalled lakefront trains after Sunday’s Browns game. The cars were claustrophobic, hot and stifling for the 30 or so minutes before we exited and walked back to the stadium station,” tweeted Brian Burke. “Also, no one gave us info to advise what was happening.”

The Browns next home game is Oct. 12 at 1 p.m. against Seattle while the next night game will be at 8:20 p.m. on Nov. 14 against Pittsburgh.

Not That 844

July 8, 2019

Ed Ribinskas has a knack for knowing the roster numbers of operating or once operating steam locomotives.

It never ceased to amaze me how he would see a number, say an address or the amount of a restaurant check, and associate it with a steam locomotive.

When I stepped got off Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited in Cleveland a couple of weeks ago Ed was waiting to pick me up.

He had photographed a Cleveland RTA Waterfront line car passing the Amtrak station because it had roster number 844.

Of course 844 is also associated with a certain steam locomotive on the Union Pacific that remains active.

Union Pacific 844 is a 4-8-4 built by Alco. RTA 844 was built by an Italian company Breda. Somehow I doubt that RTA 844 will last as long as UP 844 has.

GCRTA To Reduce Rail Service in March

January 18, 2018

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will reduce off-peak frequencies on all of its rail lines on March 11 as part of a $4 million cost cutting move.

RTA is increasing the headways or how many minutes there are between trains during the hours before and after the morning and evening rush hours.

Currently the Red Line operates every 10 minutes during non-rush hours. The Blue, Green and Waterfront lines have headways of eight to 15 minutes, depending on location.

Starting March 11, the Red Line headways before and after rush hours will go to 15 minutes while the headways on the Blue, Green and Waterfront lines will change to 10 to 25 minutes depending on location

Weekend Waterfront Line service is now every 15 minutes, but will change to every 30 minutes.

Some bus routes will also see increased headways. RTA said no bus routes are being eliminated. Likewise, no overall hours of service will be changed.

RTA CEO Joseph Calabrese said that no layoffs are expected in March, but he plans to submit a revised budget this spring that will call for staff cuts through layoffs, demotions, transfers, reduced shifts and reduced overtime.

Calabrese said the austerity measures are being undertaken due to reduced funding from the State of Ohio for public transportation.

He said by increasing headways RTA is scaling back use of its most underused vehicles.

Although acknowledging that some riders will be inconvenienced by the increased headways, Calabrese hopes that the buses and trains that continue operating will have a higher load factor, with some trains and buses running at 90 percent occupancy.

In 2017, RTA ended the year with a $36 million surplus, which Calabrese said has helped forestall further service cuts, but will not prevent long-term cuts.

Cleveland RTA to Raise Fares, Cut Service

June 10, 2016

Higher fares and service cuts will take effect in August for riders of Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

RTA is hoping these steps will shave at least $6 million off a $7 million budget shortfall. The agency said the fare hikes are the first in seven years.

Cleveland RTARTA officials said they will cover $1 million of the shortfall through “better management,” citing an example of how a recent bond refinancing saved $800,000.

Fare are slated to rise twice, once this August and again in August 2018.

A one-way trip on a bus or rapid train will increase from $2.25 to $2.50 this year and to $2.75 in two years.

The senior/disabled rate will increase from $1 to $1.25 this year and to $1.35 in August 2018. The Park-N-Ride bus rate will increase from $2.50 to $2.75 this year and to $3.25 in August 2018.

An unlimited all day pass will increase from $5 to $5.50 this year and to $6 two years from now. The fare increases will affect all fare classes.

The service cuts largely mirror those that RTA proposed in April and two rail lines will see reduced operations.

There will be no service after 7 p.m. on the Waterfront line except on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the summer.

Rush hour weekday service will now operate every 15 minutes while trains will run during mid-day hours every 30 minutes.

Evening service is also being curtailed on the Green Line, with the last roundtrip departing at 9 p.m.

Eight bus routes will be discontinued, another eight routes will see a portion of their current route discontinued, and three routes will see a reduction in the span of service.

RTA said that the service curtailment will affect 1 percent of its ridership with a tenth of 1 percent of riders losing access.

The service plan is expected to be tweaked over the next several months.

RTA is eyeing development of a van pool service and a pilot program of shared mobility service.

The latter would provide ADA riders with vouchers or subsidies for using taxis or such services as Lyft or Uber to get to RTA stations.

June Shutdowns Set for Cleveland RTA Trains

June 5, 2014

Construction of the second new Innerbelt bridge in downtown Cleveland along with track rehabilitation will result in weekend shutdowns of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Red, Green and Blue rail lines in June.

Buses will replace trains on all three rail lines on June 7 and 8, and again on June 14 and 15 on routes operating east of the Tower City Rapid station.

Blue and Green line trains will continue to operate over the Waterfront Line on those dates.

Red Line service will also be curtailed on weekdays in June through the 22nd.

Between June 9 and 13, and between June 16 and 21, the Red Line will operate only between Tower City and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.  A special timetable dated June 7 will provide schedule information for operations during this period.

Red Line trains will operate only between Hopkins Airport and the Cedar-University station between June 22 and 29.

Normal Red Line service over the entire length of the route will resume on June 30.

Blue, Green and Waterfront trains will operate as normal during weekdays in June.

During the weekend shutdowns of the Red, Blue and Green lines east of Tower City workers will remove steel bridge beams that span RTA tracks.