Posts Tagged ‘Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’

Cleveland RTA Launches ‘Last Mile’ Pilot Project

September 27, 2022

Cleveland RTA is working with SHARE Mobility and employers in Solon and Bedford Heights to provide a “last mile” service.

RTA officials say the project seeks to address coverage gaps in public transit service.

SHARE Mobility said it “contracts with fleet providers to provide transportation for workers leaving a bus stop or other transit connection at the appropriate time to get them to jobs in the area.”

This involves ride sharing and allows riders to schedule trips in advance.

The service, which is targeted at hourly workers without access to transportation or seeking to save on month transportation costs, transports workers between their workplace and an RTA bus stop.

The route frequency will be based upon employer work schedules.

Cleveland RTA Creates Intervention Teams

September 8, 2022

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority said this week it has created programs to watch stations and assist riders, and to provide assistance during emergencies.

In a news release, Cleveland RTA described the programs as a “progressive policing and community engagement initiative that reduces the law enforcement’s footprint on GCRTA transit systems by integrating unarmed professionals to handle non-criminal issues.”

Civilians in uniforms will be trained in conflict resolution skills to help people experiencing mental health crises.

Members will be part of a Transit Ambassadors team or a Intervention specialists team comprised of licensed social workers who will be embedded within RTA’s police force.

RTA said transit ambassadors will provide general information and assistance to riders and the public; assist riders needing help with navigating GCRTA’s transit system; assist riders in understanding and complying with fare policies; request transit police assistance as needed; and help maintain a safe and clean environment.

The crisis intervention specialists will perform mental health, crisis, and substance abuse outreach; defuse immediate crises and serve as a gateway to available resources; establish relationships with social service agencies.

Members of both program have received 40 hours of crisis intervention team training along with training on de-escalation, defensive tactics, first aid/CPR/Narcan, human trafficking awareness and customer service.

One to two teams per shift will initially provide coverage on the HealthLine and at RTA rail stations before expanding out to other routes and locations.

Cleveland RTA Gets Grant for New Rail Cars

August 25, 2022

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has received an $8 million grant to be used to fund rail car replacement.

The grant was awarded by the Ohio Transit Partnership Program.

Cleveland RTA said it now has been awarded from the Ohio Department of Transportation $21.4 million to be used toward replacement of rail cars used on its 33-mile rail network.

The agency has raised $197.5 million of the $300 million Railcar Replacement Program budget, according to Deputy General Manager Engineering and Project Management Mike Schipper.

This includes funding being provided by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, Federal Formula Funding, and USDOT BUILD, as well as the self-funded Rolling Stock Replacement Fund.

Schipper told RTA trustees during an Aug. 23 meeting that RTA’s rail car fleet is one of the  older in the nation and has exceeded the 30-year expected lifespan of the cars.

“Even as we are in the process of procuring the railcars, the new cars are still going to be 3-4 years from now.” Schipper said.

RTA has enough funding to order 24 new rail cars with options for 36 additional cars.

In a related development, RTA said it received a $3.5 million Urban Transit Program grant from ODOT that will be used to replace six 40-foot diesel buses with six 40-foot Compressed Natural Gas-powered buses.

During the Aug. 23 meeting, RTA trustees approved a resolution to create a seven-member civilian oversight committee to review and investigate public complaints against transit police department employees.

The resolution said the civilian oversight committee must have members who are “representative of the diverse communities in Cuyahoga County.”

At least one member must be a retired police officer. The oversight committee will have the power to receive, investigate and make recommendations to the RTA police chief as to how complaints should be resolved.

RTA’s Chief Operating Officer Floun’say Caver told the trustees that the agency has not had any major issues with its police officers, but by appointing an oversight committee there will be a mechanism to resolve issues should they arise.

APTA Honors 2 Cleveland RTA Executives

July 20, 2022

Two Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority executives were honored recently by the American Public Transportation Association.

RTA board member Valarie McCall was recognized as an Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member while former RTA General Manager Joseph Calabrese was named to APTA hall of fame.

APTA also has named Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation as one o f four transit agencies to receive an award for innovation.

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.

Cleveland RTA Promotes Agency Executive

May 26, 2022

Janet Burney is being promoted to deputy general manager and legal affairs/general counsel by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Burney has more than 40 years of experience in private- and public-sector law. The appointment is effective July 31.

Before coming to RTA in 2012, Burney served as a judge in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas-Juvenile Division. She also once served as chief assistant director of law for the city of Cleveland.

NEO Transit Agencies Get FTA Grants

March 13, 2022

Local public transit officials have released information as to how much money they are receiving in Federal Transit Administration grants and for what purposes the funding will be used.

FTA recently announced the awarding of $32,639,029 to improve bus service at five Ohio transit agencies.

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority plans to use its $4 million to rehabilitate its Hayden bus maintenance facility.

Laketran in Lake County will use its $14,681,981 to expand a bus garage and add an operations and maintenance facility.

Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority will get $1,514,888 to replace older buses.

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority in Cincinnati will receive $10,134,960 to replace older buses while the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority will get $2,307,200 to upgrade its maintenance facility and replace older paratransit vehicles.

The funding is coming from the Infrastructure and Jobs Acts approved by Congress last year.

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.”