Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland RTA’

Cleveland RTA Joins Racial Equity Program

June 22, 2022

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has joined Racial Equity Commitment Pilot Program of the American Public Transportation Association.

It is a pilot program that over two years weeks seeks to achieve “a tangible roadmap for advancing racial equity as part of a comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion framework, beyond legal compliance and with a view to continuous improvement.”

The program has 81 other public transit agencies and companies that provide public transportation under contract.

In a news release, Cleveland RTA said the roadmap includes making racial equity “an explicit strategic priority” through such measures as undertaking an annual diversity, equity and inclusion climate assessment; reviewing and analyzing demographic data to develop a baseline on how existing policies, practices and programs affect racial equity.

Cleveland RTA general manager India Birdsong said participating in the program will enable the agency to establish standardized metrics, identify essential resources, and determine how to structure recognition levels to measure and reward progress in advancing racial equity.

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.

Cleveland RTA to get $20.5M in Federal Funding

March 3, 2022

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority said this week it will receive $20.3 million in funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

That funding is part of $1.3 billion in federal dollars that Ohio will receive for public transit agencies over the next five years, GCRTA officials said in a news release.

Ohio urban and rural transit providers will be awarded $260 million in federal fiscal year 2022 with $73.5 million available immediately and the rest available later in the year.

In a statement, GCRTA General Manager and CEO India Birdsong said the funding “will assist us in strengthening our transportation network and associated infrastructure.”

RTA Officials Defend Service Suspensions

February 1, 2022

Two trains sliding backward on their tracks. Five buses stuck in the snow. Thirteen minor accidents.

That series of events led officials of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to take the unprecedented step of suspending all service for 12 hours during the weekend of Jan. 16-17 after a winter storm dumped 15 inches of snow on Northeast Ohio.

But that decision has come under fire from public transit advocates, prompting RTA managers to defend the service suspension during a recent meeting of the RTA board of trustees.

RTA General Manager India Birdsong told trustees that the storm created a unique situation in which snow accumulation of more an inch per hour overwhelmed the system.

Chief Operating Officers Floun’say Caver, said that included two train operators reporting losing traction.

Caver said RTA sent a snow train out to clear tracks but later discovered the problem with lost traction was caused by ice building up on brake shoes rather than track conditions.

Still critics said the service suspension raises concerns because the Cleveland region routinely gets heavy snowfalls every winter.

They pointed to an RTA blog post in 2019 that public transit was a reliable way to get around during harsh winter weather.

Caver defended the service suspension, which was RTA’s first in 19 years.

“I am confident with the decision to have to prioritize the safety, the life and the health of this community,” he said.

Still, Alex Rubin, a member of Clevelanders for Public Transit said the mid-January storm was not historic by any standard.

 “Should we expect there to be no bus or rapid service the next time it snows?”

 “It should not happen every year,” Birdsong said in response. “This is something we can work to be in avoidance of, and we absolutely will do that.”

All Aboard Ohio called the RTA service suspension another example of RTA’s failure to update its fleet.

“It’s bad enough that GCRTA has let the Rapid fall into disrepair from decades of neglect and a failure to fund and procure replacement of equipment, some of which is way beyond its designed life span,” AAO Executive Director Stu Nicholson wrote on Twitter.

“But a total shutdown of the Rapid along with all bus service makes us wonder if this is willful neglect on the part of GCRTA management.”

Nicholson wants an investigation of the shutdown and for the appointment of new RTA trustees to address it.

Clevelanders for Public Transit made similar statements on its Twitter feed.

RTA officials noted they have taken steps to improve the fleet, including using COVID-19 pandemic emergency aid to buy 40 new buses that are expected to enter service in the fall.

Sixteen new vehicles for the Healthline busline were placed into service in January.

Replacing the rail fleet, though, has been a heavier lift. RTA in 2019 put out a request for proposals from transit vehicle manufacturers only to reject last summer the one proposal it received as inadequate.

A second request for proposals has a deadline of March 9 and RTA officials say a vote by trustees on a bid could occur later this year.

RTA projects that replacing its rail fleet will cost $717 million over a 30-year period.

In the interim, RTA trustees have agreed to spend $2.2 million to replace traction motors on rail cars in the wake of 18 traction motor failures last year. The traction motors were last replaced in 2012.

New rail cars, when they do arrive, will have antilock brakes that Caver said will help their performance during winter weather.

He said the new cars also would have better slide protection and more snow cutters to keep the tracks and overhead power lines clear.

As for the mid-January storm, Caver said, “the trains, for the most part, held up fairly well, but this weather environment created these issues that we had.”

Cleveland RTA Red Line Train Separates in Transit

October 22, 2021

One person was taken to a hospital after a Cleveland RTA Red Line train separated while moving Thursday afternoon.

The three-car train was heading to Cleveland Hopkins Airport when the separation occurred at 2:45 p.m. between the West Boulevard-Cudell Station and the station at West 117th Street.

Passengers aboard the train were helped off by Cleveland firefighters and RTA police officers.

An RTA spokeswoman said the train stopped after the separation occurred.

In a news release, RTA said the train was inspected and later put back into service. The RTA spokeswoman said the passenger was taken by ambulance at her request to be checked.

In a service advisory, RTA said Thursday afternoon that although the Red Line was continuing to operate there might be delays to some trains.

Cleveland RTA Completes Track Work Project

October 5, 2021

Greater Cleveland RTA said it has restored all service on its Blue and Green lines that had been suspended for the past eight weeks due to track construction.

The track work took place between the Buckeye-Woodhill Station and Shaker Square.

The project involved replacing 7,000 ties, 29,600 e-clip fasteners, 54,800 spikes, 27,400 feet of rail and 12 turnouts.

The agency spent $8 million on the work and said that last time this segment of the track had been repaired was in the early 1980s.

Cleveland RTA Awards Rail Grinding Contract

September 4, 2021

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has awarded a rail grinding contract to Advanced Rail Management.

The contractor will provide rail grinding project management designed to improve wheel/rail interaction on 38 track-miles on the Red Line and 10 track-miles on the Blue and Green lines.

In a news release, ARM said it will provide project management and be responsible for the quality, technical accuracy and coordination of all required services through 2023.

The work undertaken by ARM will include optical rail measurement to capture rail profile, and to measure rail wear prior to the grinding and post-grind optical rail measurement, to assess the effectiveness of the grinding work.

Annual measurement will enable ARM to monitor wear rates over the course of the program.

AAO Wants Probe of RTA Railcar Procurement

May 15, 2021

An Ohio rail advocacy group wants an investigation into the procurement process being used by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to buy new railcars.

All Aboard Ohio said it contacted the Federal Transit Administration’s inspector general after it learned from unnamed GCRTA sources and a railcar manufacturer that RTA twice denied deadline extensions sought by one or more manufacturers.

The builders said they needed more time to respond to RTA’s pending request for proposals.

AAO said it fears the denials could suppress competition among bidders, which could increase the costs for what is expected to be a $240 million program to replace the cars.

The car replacement project is expected to be RTA’s most expensive capital project in its history.

In a statement, RTA said it continues to pursue acquisition of new rail cars but declined to provide further details on the process.

The statement said RTA is following FTA’s best practices and is in compliance with state and federal regulations.

RTA issued a request for proposals on Feb. 22 that gave interested parties 12 weeks to prepare and submit proposals by May 19.

The transit agency plans to buy 18 railcars and seek options to buy dozens more later. RTA wants to use federal funding to finance some of the purchase.

The agency plans to use one model on all of its rail lines. Currently, it has two types of cars with one dedicated to use on the Red Line and another on the Green and Blue lines.

AAO contend that at least one rail car manufacturer was unable to visit the RTA railcar maintenance shop until April.

The advocacy group said deadline extensions for such projects are considered a “best practice” by the FTA, and had been done on projects in in California, New York, and Illinois in an effort to enhance competition among bidders.

“We hope that FTA’s [inspector general] will be able to determine why FTA’s best practices are not being followed here,” AAO said in its letter to the FTA, saying the deadline should be extended by a month.

East 79th Street Rapid Station Reopens

April 3, 2021

The 79th Street Rapid station of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has reopened.

It was the last key station to be reconstructed in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The redesigned facility has a series of ramps and stair structures down an existing hillside.

A pedestrian track crossing is protected by gates, flashing lights and bells.

The station entrance is a new entry plaza that also has a bus-waiting area.

“The East 79th Street Station project not only marks the completion of the station reconstruction. Now all Red Line Stations are ADA compliant,” RTA CEO and General Manager India Birdsong.

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.