Posts Tagged ‘Greater Cleveland RTA’

3 Transit Systems to Get Federal Station Improvement Grants

December 20, 2022

Public transit systems in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are among the recipients of grants from the Federal Transit Administration to be used to modernize stations and improve their accessibility.

The agencies are sharing in $686 million being awarded to 15 projects. The grant funding is coming from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Greater Cleveland Transit Authority will receive $8 million to rebuild its East 79th Street rapid station to make it more accessible.

The 1920s era station will receive new ramps, concrete platforms, rail crossings, warning panels, canopy-covered concrete stairs, upgraded emergency call boxes, and slip-resistant walking surfaces.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit will receive $24.4 million to make the Bethel Village, Westfield, St. Anne’s, and Shiras stations on the Red Line ADA accessible. Station improvements will include installing a high platform for level boarding, shelters on the boarding platform, ramps, accessible signage and auditory support.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will receive $56 million to make its 11th Street subway station on the Market-Frankford Subway Line and the Chinatown, Erie, Fairmount Upper Level, Fairmount Lower Level and Snyder stations on the Broad Street Subway Line accessible.

The stations were built in the early 20th century. Work will include installing elevators, general station upgrades, ramps, and making path of travel improvements.

RTA Eyes Grant for New Rail Cars

December 17, 2022

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will seek grant funding next year that management said could enable it to buy new rail cars.

RTA Chief Operating Officer Floun’say Caver told The Plain Dealer, that the agency has raised $209 million in cash and grants in its rail car replacement fund.

Next month it will seek a $100 million grant in funds being provided by the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that would enable it to reach its $300 million goal.

However, it will likely be up to five years before the new cars begin revenue service and the agency still has not identified a builder for the equipment.

RTA is seeking proposals from transit car vendors and continues to talk with them. The deadline for bids is March 9.

Caver said the earliest the RTA governing board would likely vote on a contract for building the new cars is next fall.

RTA also is seeking $50 million in grants from  the federal government and Ohio Department of Transportation to be used to develop a bus rapid transit route that would operate along West 25th Street from Detroit Avenue and Irishtown Bend Park to Old Brooklyn.

The agency also will seek funding to help pay for up to 10 new electric buses while replacing 20 more buses next year.

RTA recently reported that fare revenue this year has posted a modest gain but is still below what it was before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

In another development, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s All Stations Accessibility Program awarded $8 million to RTA for improvement of a rail station.

This includes the East 79th Street rail station on the Blue/Green lines, which will bring it into compliance with standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The project also will include upgrades to lighting, cameras, and emergency call boxes, and the addition of new seating, bike racks, and signs.

Cleveland RTA Receives TOD Grant

November 18, 2022

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will receive a grant as part of a federal $13.1 million Transit-Oriented Development Planning program.

RTA will use the $315,000 grant to develop its proposed Broadway Avenue Corridor project, a multi-modal planning project that will incorporate bus rapid transit with bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

The Federal Transit Administration, which announced the grants, said the grant to Cleveland RTA will increase bicycle and pedestrian access to transit hubs, recommend ways to incorporate green infrastructure, and analyze ways to revitalize commercial and housing opportunities near transit stations.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Public Transportation Authority of Philadelphia will receive a $300,000 grant for planning and analysis of Route 11 and 13 trolley services in the Darby and Yeadon boroughs in Delaware County.

The project will support trolley revitalization, study how best to develop the area, support pedestrian and bicycle access, and plan for ways to address flooding and electrical infrastructure issues.

The FTA awarded funding for 19 transit-oriented development projects nationwide, including 12 that were rail related.

An FTA news release said the TOD program seeks to enable “communities plan for opportunities created by new transit stations, such as affordable housing; economic development; and better connections to schools, hospitals, stores and restaurants,”

Projects “must examine ways to improve economic development and ridership potential, foster multimodal connectivity and accessibility, improve transit access for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, engage the private sector, identify infrastructure needs, and enable mixed-use development near transit stations,” according to FTA officials.

The program was launched last May with most of the grant recipients saying they will use the funding to address homelessness within their planning proposals, FTA said..

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.

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 Wins APTA Safety Award

November 10, 2021

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has been recognized by the American Public Transportation Association for safety and security measures taken during 2020.

The agency received a gold award in the heavy rail category in the 2021 Bus and Rail Safety, Security and COVID Response Excellence Awards.

In a news release, APTA said the awards are meant to honor agencies for their diligence and innovation through safety and security programs that serve as benchmarks of success for others.

Winners were chosen based upon effectiveness, benefit level, innovation and transferability, with the top honor being the gold award for the organization with the best example program in safety or security.