Posts Tagged ‘Greater Cleveland RTA’

Cleveland RTA Ridership Fell by 4M in 2017

April 20, 2018

Total ridership of Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority buses and trains reached a record low 39.6 million last year, a decline of more than 4 million riders from 2016 when it carried 43.8 million.

The 9.5 percent drop in ridership was the largest single-year falloff since 2010.

RTA officials said the falling ridership was a result in part of a fare increase and route cuts imposed last August.

It was the second consecutive year that RTA saw record low ridership and the third straight year of ridership declines.

RTA’s record ridership was 125.9 million in 1979. In 2016, some 43.8 million riders took RTA trains and buses.

Fear of further falling ridership was behind an RTA decision earlier this year to delay a planned fare increase for late summer.

Officials said that transit ridership is affected by various factors, including the service offered, the concentration of jobs downtown at the core of the system, increasing numbers of people working at home, traffic delays, gasoline prices, parking rates, employment and public funding.

Last month RTA cut service frequencies on 15 bus and rail routes.

Stephen Bitto, executive director of marketing and communications for RTA, said the agency is seeking to boost ridership by working with employers and college students.

About 50,000 college students receive fare cards as part of their fees at Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University, Cuyhoaga Community College and the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Cleveland RTA is Ohio’s largest transit agency, carrying more than double the number of riders than the Central Ohio Transit Authority in Columbus area. COTA ridership was 18.7 million last year.

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Cleveland RTA Won Raise Fares, Cut Service in 2018; May Eye Tax Increase to Boost Revenue

March 30, 2018

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has decided against increasing bus and rail fares this year and instead may seek a tax increase to generate additional revenue.

The transit agency had proposed earlier this year increasing fares by 25 cents in August to compensate for declining revenue, but that was met with a public outcry.

RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese also said RTA will not reduce its level of service further for the remainder of the year.

Earlier this month, RTA reduced frequency of service on 15 bus and train routes.

RTA also has launched a study of its fares, services and funding with at least one board of directors member already favoring seeking a tax increase.

“There’s no other entity in the county that has operated for 40 years on the same levy,” said board member Trevor Elkins, who also serves as the mayor of Newburgh Heights. “We have to step up and lead on this issue.”

Calabrese did not favor or disfavor a tax increase effort, but said RTA needs to increase its revenue streams.

“We need you to help us to convince others to fund public transit at a level to provide great service to our customers,” he said to the audience attending an RTA board meeting this week.

RTA benefits from a 1 percent sales tax in Cuyahoga County, but revenue from that tax has been falling.

Further aggravating the revenue picture was a deal last year between the state and Medicaid that eliminated a local sales tax on Medicaid payments for managed care, which had been worth about $20.2 million per year to RTA.

State funding of public transit has fallen from about $45 million in 2001 to less than $7 million.

RTA board member Georgine Welo, the mayor of South Euclid, said the public needs to question state officials and candidates about their support for public transit.

“You can’t trust Columbus. We have to bring back to Ohio that they’re there for us,” she said.

Calabrese described federal aid as a mixed picture.

The recently adopted federal budget for 2018 increased some categories of aid but lowered others. The federal government continues to fund capital improvements, but not operations.

RTA last increased fares in 2016 when they rose by 25 cents. That led to ridership falling by 6 percent, which was double the projected loss.

In the meantime, the RTA board approved a revised 2018 budget of $286.3 million, a decrease from the proposed $300.1 million. The budget defers $5 million in capital improvements in the hopes of more future funding.

The board also announced that its president. George F. Dixon III, has resigned at its request.

The board is investigating reports that Dixon has skipped paying healthcare premiums for insurance provided by RTA for several years. An internal investigation is being undertaken board members said.

Dixon joined the RTA board in 1992 and was appointed president in 1994.

RTA said Dixon signed up for health care through a program offered to all RTA board members, but that no other current board members are enrolled in the healthcare plan. RTA is self-insured.

Dashing Through Some Snow

March 15, 2018

The first day of spring is March 20 when the spring equinox occurs in the Northern Hemisphere at 12:15 p.m. EDT, but this week has felt more like January than the cusp of spring.

At least where I live there is still considerable snow on the ground and snow showers were frequent throughout Northeast Ohio on Tuesday.

Light snow was falling as a Greater Cleveland RTA Green Line car made its way toward downtown Cleveland after making stop at the station on Warrensville Road in Shaker Heights.

It will run parallel to Shaker Boulevard all the way to Shaker Square in Cleveland.

RTA May Delay Fare Hike Until 2019

February 22, 2018

A fare increase set to go into effect on March 27 might be delayed until next year, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority said this week.

Greater Cleveland RTA said it is considering conducting a comprehensive fare study and while that is being done it would continue fares at their current level.

The fare hike delay was recommended by RTA’s operational planning and infrastructure committee.

The RTA board of directors is expected to vote on the committee’s recommendation on March 27 when it approves a revised 2018 operating budget.

“We need to take a look at the possibility of modifying our fare structure to best assure fairness and equity to our customers,” said Joe Calabrese, GCRTA’s chief executive officer and general manager in a news release. “It’s critical that we study if there is a way to join with community partners to offer lower fares for our customers with lower incomes.”

Calabrese said that past fare increases have resulted in ridership declines because many riders could not afford the higher fare.

In 2016, ridership fell by 6 percent after RTA increased fares by 25 cents, which was double the projected ridership loss.

RTA Shortens Red Line Trains for Wheel Work

February 19, 2018

Some Greater Cleveland Red Line trains are operating with one car rather than the customary two because several cars have been removed from service for wheel work.

RTA said it has sidelined 17 of the 40 cars normally assigned to the line because the wheels had worn too thin to meet safety standards.

That has meant crowded trains, particularly during busy travel times. The cars were removed in the latter part of last year but some are now starting to go back into service with new wheels.

Although RTA ordered new wheels for the cars last June, its order was delayed when the company processing the order gave priority to another customer with a larger order.

By last December, RTA lacked enough serviceable cars to assign two cars per train as is the normal practice.

New wheels finally began reaching the RTA shop last week and the first car to receive new wheels entered revenue service shortly thereafter.

RTA officials say it will take nearly two months for every train to again be assigned two cars and nearly 16 weeks to retrofit the entire fleet, including spare cars.

Although the shop located near East 55th Street can repair a wheel through a process known as truing, after two inches have been removed from a wheel it must be discarded.

Applying the brakes and the effects of snow and ice can cause wear and tear on wheels.

Each new wheel consists of 550 pounds of steel and is 28 inches in diameter.

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.

GCTRA Completes Building Green Line Station

October 19, 2017

Renovation of the Lee-Shaker station on the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Green Line has been completed.

The $11.7 million upgrade involved removing and replacing the original platform and waiting shelters.

Workers also installed new lighting, signs, railings and a safety security system with cameras and emergency call boxes.

The work began in October 2016 and the station remained open during the construction work.

In a news release, RTA said the renovations make the station compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“This station, as well as other recent renovations on both our light- and heavy-rail lines, are examples of RTA’s significant investment in our robust rail infrastructure,” said GCRTA CEO and General Manager Joe Calabrese.

Cleveland RTA Names Operations Manager

October 3, 2017

Floun’say Caver has been appointed deputy general manager of operations at Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Caver replaces Michael York, who retired last week. Carver first joined RTA in 2000 and left in 2002 to earn a doctorate degree from the University of Texas at Dallas. He returned in 2006 as RTA’s manager of budgets.

Carver was chosen during a nationwide search to fill the position.

In a news release, RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese said Caver’s technical knowledge of the bus and rail industry, and his ability to lead and inspire others, made him the top candidate.

Caver is the creator of the TransitState performance management initiative, which has helped reduce costs, improve processes and change work culture at GCRTA.

TransitStat is an adaptation of New York City’s CompStat and Baltimore’s CitiStat programs. Caver also created GCRTA’s management trainee program.

In an unrelated announcement, the federal government will provide $5.85 million to help update RTA’s radio communications system.

“Our current system is obsolete and parts availability has been so difficult that we were sometimes shopping on Ebay for discontinued parts,” Calabrese said. “This grant will allow us to update our entire communications system and bring it into the 21st century to improve the quality of our service and the safety of our customers.”

Updating the communications system will enable RTA to provide reliable real-time arrival information for riders.

The total cost of the upgrade is $18 million; other federal funds and local matches will cover the remaining costs.

RTA Dedicates Renovated Brook Park Station

August 24, 2017

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority held a dedication on Wednesday of its renovated Brookpark Rapid Station.

Located on the Red Line and serving four bus routes, the $16.5 million the station received a new platform, canopies and entrances. The work also included improved lighting, security systems and cameras.

New parking lots were created and the passenger waiting areas were enhanced.

The station was built in 1964 and the latest renovations began in June 2015.
Brookpark is RTA’s busiest station serving more than 750,000 riders each year.

 

NOACA OKs $15.8B Transportation Plan for Greater Cleveland

July 22, 2017

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency has approved a $15.8 billion, 20-year transportation plan for Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties that has been named AIM Forward 2040.

More than 90 percent of the funds identified in the plan will be used to maintain existing infrastructure and support new transit and livability projects.

“We heard over and over again that adding more lanes and widening roads was not necessarily a priority,” said NOACA Executive Director Grace Gallucci. “What we did hear was a strong desire for more options for getting around and fixing what we already have.

NOACA plans to invest $45 million to renew rail infrastructure of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s Red Line from Tower City to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

The line sees nearly 30,000 weekday riders and in recent years deteriorated tracks and poor drainage have slowed trains.

Also on the docket is spending nearly $68 million for replacing 260 transit buses in Cuyahoga and Lake counties.

This does not yet include the replacement of RTA’s rail fleet, some of which dates back to the middle 1970s. RTA wants to replace its two models of light and heavy rail cars with a single type of equipment during the next four-year cycle of urban formula grants.

The price of replacing the rail car fleet with nearly 70 light-rail cars may be as much as $300 million.

Also in the works is planning of transit-oriented development around RTA rail stations. This will include a pilot program focused at the West Boulevard/Cudell station on the Red Line and the East 116th Street station on the Blue and Green Lines.

Additional transit-supportive land-use planning is occurring near RTA’s two East 79th Street rail stations that are in need of major rehabilitation.

Some development has been built, is under construction or is planned within walking distance of dozens of rail and bus rapid transit stations.

In the longer term future, NOACA wants to expand the number of rail stations from 50 to 162, and expand rail service to improve job access in places such as Euclid, Lorain, Westlake, Lakewood, Solon, Strongsville and Medina, as well as promote walkable communities around rail stations.

NOACA officials say that under existing flexible transportation funding provisions, the financial resources already exist to expand the existing transit system.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has awarded to NOACA $200,000 to begin planning a multi-county transit system as an overlay to connect and enhance existing county-based transit networks to improve access to job hubs.

Only 10 percent of available jobs are within a 60-minute one-way transit ride in Greater Cleveland.