Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland RTA’

Cleveland RTA Names Interim CEO

August 23, 2018

Floun’say Caver has been named interim chief executive officer and general manager of Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Caver will take the post on Sept. 1 and serve until March 1 as the agency’s governing board searches for a permanent CEO.

The current CEO, Joseph Calabrese, will step down in September and assume a senior advisory role at RTA.

Caver first joined RTA in 2000 as a budget management analysis. He left in 2002 to earn a doctorate degree from the University of Texas at Dallas and returned in 2006 as manager of budgets.

He was named chief operating officer and deputy general manager of operations in October 2017.

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Cleveland RTA Upgrading Signals

August 21, 2018

Work got underway this week to repair the signal system on the Blue and Green lines of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Trains may face minor delays during the course of the project, which is expected to take three to four months to complete.

The signal upgrading is part of a $47 million rehabilitation project. Earlier this month, the agency replaced 7,300 ties and rebuilt some track structure on Red Line.

The Blue and Green lines have 30 miles of one-way track that serve 34 stations.

Cleveland RTA Won’t Seek Tax Hike This Year

August 13, 2018

The governing board of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority decided last week not to seek a tax increase in November.

Board member Trevor Elkins moved to ask voters to approve a 0.4 percent sales tax increase to support RTA, but his motion died for lack of a second.

Board members said during the meeting that it was too late to push for a tax increase this year and they want to continue talking with community leaders as they await the results of an operations study and an economic impact study.

Elkins, the mayor of Newburgh Heights, said the tax hike would raise about $73 million per year. “We should give the voters a choice this November,” he said.

But board President Dennis Clough responded, “We’re just not there.”

The earliest that RTA can now go to the voters to seek more funding is May 2019.

RTA funding has been hindered since a downturn in Cuyahoga County sales tax collections and a federal decree that Ohio may not apply its sales tax to Medicaid managed-care organizations to public transportation funding.

Much of RTA’s budget comes from a 1 percent sales tax and the agency is facing a $20 million funding shortfall by 2020.

Although the board has been discussing avenues to increase funding, there has yet to emerge a consensus on how to do that.

Among the ideas kicked around have been a sales tax increase, a property tax increase, a city of Cleveland parking tax increase, and even the hope that if Democrat Richard Cordray is elected elected governor in November he will increase state aid to public transit.

“We can’t continue to hope the state will rescue us,” Elkins said.

Clough, the mayor of Westlake, conceded RTA needs to find additional revenue to maintain its existing service.

“The need is urgent and the clock is ticking, but we should only move forward when all the right pieces are in place,” he said.

Clough added that a tax levy is likely, though, in 2019.

Marvin Ranaldson of Clevelanders for Public Transit said he understands the board’s concerns but worries about RTA’s funding future.

“We’re just disappointed . . . that after all this time and all this talk, that they decided to do nothing, which is basically what they have been doing for the last two years,” Ranaldson said.

Cleveland RTA Reports Crime Has Fallen 60%

August 10, 2018

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority said serious crimes on its system declined by nearly 60 percent during the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period of 2016.

The results were reported in a recent safety audit evaluating crime rates over the past two years.

The study found that robberies this year are down 80 percent and thefts dropped 51 percent for the reporting period.

RTA also reported a drop in such lesser crimes as disorderly conduct, which fell 47 percent for the reporting period.
RTA CEO Joe Calabrese described the findings as very encouraging.

In a news release, RTA Officials cited the agency’s investment in public safety among the reasons for the drop in crime. The agency has boosted police visibility and increased its police force to 136 full-time sworn officers.
Video cameras have been installed in every bus and on every train and platform.

Cleveland RTA to Seek Tax Hike

July 26, 2018

Two Greater Cleveland RTA Blue Line trains pass in June 2013.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will seek a tax increase this November.

RTA’s governing board agreed to draft two possible tax increase measures. One would increase RTA’s sales tax from 1 percent to 1.5 percent while the other would create a 2-mill property tax.

The measures must be approved by Aug. 8 in order to meet the deadline to make the Nov. 6 ballot.

Trustee Trevor Elkins, the mayor of Newburgh Heights, said each proposal would raise $50 million to $60 million per year.

The RTA trustees might modify the proposals before placing them o n the ballot.

However, RTA President Dennis Clough believes it is too late to garner community support for a tax hike this year.

“We are not ready in two weeks to go to the ballot,” he said. “You need to conjure up a lot of support from other public officials. We have to know that we’ve looked inside and seen if there are better ways of operating. We have to know the right approach to persuade voters.”

Elkins countered that RTA has talked about a tax hike for too long. “Now is the time to act before our ridership and this agency suffers further,” he said.

Lack of money has plagued RTA in recent years after a court action that rules it could not collect sales taxes on Medicaid payments for managed care.

RTA has lost about it lost $20.2 million per in funding, which equals 7 percent of its budget.

Elkins and members of advocacy group Clevelanders for Public Transit said that the Medicaid loss was foreseeable several years ago and RTA should have started earlier its quest to replace that lost funding.

Calabrese to Step down as RTA CEO

July 26, 2018

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority CEO Joseph Calabrese is being pushed out of his job 18 months sooner than he had expected.

The RTA board decided that Calabrese should step down in September rather than retire in 2020 as he had earlier said he would.

Calabrese is expected to serve as a senior adviser at RTA for special projects and strategic innovation in a full-time capacity through February 2019.

In a news release, RTA said it will begin a national search for a replacement. The board said it wanted to speed up the transition to new leadership.

“From an organizational standpoint, the board believes that this is the best strategy to ensure an orderly transition to new leadership, and Joe agreed,” said RTA President Dennis Clough in a statement. “This decision will better position RTA for the future.”

Calabrese is expected to play a key role in several agency initiatives, including a Cleveland State University study of RTA’s economic impact in the region.

Once Calabrese steps down as CEO, the RTA board is expected to name an interim general manager.

Calabrese has served as RTA CEO since February 2000.

Part of RTA Red Line Closed for Track Work

July 23, 2018

A portion of the Greater Cleveland RTA Red Line closed on Sunday for track repair and will be out of service through Aug. 11.

The affected track is between the Puritas and West 117th Street stations. Passengers using those stations will ride a 66R bus at no extra fare.

RTA officials said passengers should add 30 minutes to their typical commute.

The work involves installation of new rails and 7,300 new crossties. Tracks will be replaced at the West Park and Triskett stations, which lie between Puritas and West 117th.

For an updated schedule and more information, see riderta.com.

Cleveland RTA Upgrading 116th Street Station

June 2, 2018

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has begun construction of a renovated East 116th-St. Luke’s station on its joint Blue and Green lines in Cleveland.

The $7.2 million project will provide enhanced security features, emergency call buttons and better lighting, and ramps that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Construction.

The project is expected to be completed in May 2019. The station was last renovated in 1981.

Shirmir Construction has installed a temporary access way so riders can use the station during construction. Panzica Construction Co. is the general contractor, while City Architecture is providing the design.

The East 116th Station opened in 1920, when service began from Shaker Square to East 34th Street and downtown Cleveland.

Oh What Might Have Been

May 12, 2018

Were they serious? If so, imagine the possibilities. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the governor of Ohio and a host of elected officials standing in front of Terminal Tower to announce it would be the second Amazon headquarters.

The announcement would feature grand pronouncements about what a great thing it was for public transportation in Greater Cleveland.

But it’s all a moot point because Amazon did not consider Cleveland’s bid for the second headquarters worth pursuing.

As described in the post above, Cleveland proposed that Amazon locate the headquarters in Terminal Tower, the hub of the four rail lines of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

The bid offered Amazon employees a 25 percent discount on RTA fares and promised to “accelerate” plans to expand RTA rail line mileage from 37 to 111 miles by 2029.

Cleveland officials must have thought that would entice Amazon because access to public transportation was among the criteria that Amazon valued.

It wasn’t the only requirement and maybe Cleveland came up short on other things. But Amazon might have examined the RTA rail expansion closely and asked the same question I did.

It is unclear how the RTA rail line expansions would have been paid for, but probably through a mix of federal, state and local funding.

It would have been money falling from heaven out of wallets that have long been closed or barely open to public transportation in Ohio.

Cleveland RTA faces a tough future. Ohio minimally funds public transportation and the state’s public transit agencies are coping with the loss of a tax they once counted on for revenue.

RTA has a long deferred maintenance backlog that will cost millions to work down with funding to tackle all of it nowhere in sight.

This includes replacing the worn out Breda cars used on the Blue, Green and Waterfront lines. Some believe those lines are in jeopardy of closing in a few years because of the lack of operable equipment.

RTA also relies on a sales tax in Cuyahoga County that has not increased since it was implemented.

It is difficult to imagine RTA undertaking an expansion of its existing rail lines when preserving the status quo is already a challenge.

The information released thus far about the RTA rail expansion in the failed Amazon bid has been sketchy.

It is not clear whether it involved extending existing RTA rail routes or using railroad right of ways such as the former Erie Railroad line that is still in place to Aurora to create new routes.

There once was a proposal to launch commuter rail service on the former Erie, which until January 1977 hosted Cleveland-Youngstown commuter trains.

But that met strong opposition in far suburbs from people who fear all sorts of things ranging from diminished property values to criminals riding trains to their town to commit crimes.

Had Cleveland officials announced their plan to expand RTA rail lines it would have been met with a chorus from the suburbs of “let’s rebuild the roads instead of laying rails. If Amazon employees don’t want to drive like we do, they can take a bus or they can carpool.”

Maybe the sheer size of the Amazon proposal would have been enough to overcome such opposition, given that Amazon was dangling the prospect of 50,000 well-paying high tech jobs, $5 billion in construction and 250,000 indirect jobs. Economic development on that scale doesn’t come along often.

Even so, the forces that have kept public transportation in check in Northeast Ohio will not be defeated easily. There is too much at stake in maintaining the existing power structure.

I recently learned that when Randall Park Mall was being developed in the early 1970s that developer Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. offered to help pay to extend the Blue Line along Warrensville Road to the site. But the proposal went nowhere.

A similar idea to extend the Blue Line about 10 years ago also has languished.

It might have been one of the RTA rail expansions cited in the Cleveland bid for Amazon.

Randall Park Mall has since been razed and the site is now being developed as an Amazon distribution center.

Oh the possibilities of what might have been: Amazon to Amazon by rail in Cleveland.

Red Line Cars to be Made Rolling Art Exhibit

April 23, 2018

A nonprofit group in Cleveland plans to transform some transit cars of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority into a rolling museum of contemporary art.

LAND Studio is looking for artists who will create artworks that will be placed in the windows of 25 Red Line cars.

Each artist will receive $1,500 to create designs for artworks capable of being digitized and printed on vinyl.

Five Red Line cars with have works by five artists to match one of five literary passages taken from the work of a Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winner.

The art placed on the five cars will be duplicated five times on Red Line cars thus presenting 25 responses to the five individual literary passages by five writers. Excerpts from the writings will also be displayed on the windows.

LAND is taking applications from artists through April 30. Applicants must submit portfolios of their work through an online portal or by contacting LAND Studio’s Joe Lanzilotta at info@land-studio.org with subject line: INTER|URBAN RFP.

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Award is administered by the Cleveland Foundation to “recognize books that contribute to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of diversity.”

The passages to be interpreted by the artists will be chosen from: The Negro Speaks of Rivers, by Langston Hughes; The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson; The Fortunes, by Peter Ho Davies; Far From the Tree, by Andrew Solomon; and The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle, by Lillian Faderman.

The Cleveland Foundation is providing $185,000 for the project to place the art on the Red Line cars.

This is the second project involving LAND Studio and RTA. In 2016, painters and photographers produced a dozen large-scale indoor and outdoor murals that were placed along the Red Line.