Posts Tagged ‘Greater Cleveland RTA’

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.

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.

Waterfront Line Suspension Extended Indefinitely

September 9, 2021

A Waterfront line car climbs the incline to cross the Norfolk Southern Tracks in downtown Cleveland in September 2017.

Service on the Cleveland RTA Waterfront line has been suspended indefinitely due to the closing of a bridge that spans the Norfolk Southern tracks just east of the Cuyahoga River.

It is the latest setback for the 2.2-mile line, which saw service suspended for several months last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then shut down again last October due to a track rehabilitation project at Tower City.

RTA said in a statement that a consulting firm found that the bridge needs four interim support towers to stabilize the structure.

These would be considered a temporary fix until a permanent solution to the problem is found and implemented.

The consulting firm had found in a 2018 inspection that the bridge has stress fractures. At the time, RTA responded by limiting traffic on the bridge to one train at a time.

Hardesty & Hanover, which conducted the inspection, recommended that RTA not use the bridge until it is permanently fixed, a process expected to take two years.

RTA has awarded an emergency contract for the support towers with that work expected to be finished in late October.

The most recent inspection of the bridge was conducted this past summer ahead of what RTA expected to a resumption of service on the Waterfront Line.

Hardesty & Hanover has begun design work on a permanent solution fix for the bridge, which RTA expects to pay for with $6 million in federal funding granted by the Federal Transit Administration.

The service suspension means RTA will not be able to provide service directly to FirstEnergy Stadium this year for Cleveland Browns games.

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.

Cleveland RTA Restarts Rail Car Acquisition

June 14, 2021

Much of North America’s rail passenger growth is occurring in urban rail systems. Two Greater Cleveland RTA Blue Line trains pass in June 2013.

It is back to square one for Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority in its quest to buy new rail cars.

The transit agency said Friday afternoon it has canceled its plans to find a manufacturer for the cars because the sole proposal it received provided to be inadequate.

RTA said in a news release that it would start the search over but “remains committed” to replacing its rail car fleet.

The news release said the new search will begin at an unspecified point during the next few months.

The request for proposals was sent to rail car manufacturers in February. At the time, RTA specified it was seeking a car type that could operate on all three of if rail lines.

At the time, RTA acknowledged that would involve a specialized product but that it would make maintenance easier and less costly.

Two vendors showed interest in the request for proposals but only one submitted a formal proposal by the May deadline.

After reviewing that proposal, RTA staff concluded the proposal “was not responsive to the technical requirements of the solicitation.”

A rail passenger advocacy group, All Aboard Ohio, had warned earlier that RTA’s timeline on its rail car acquisition program was too tight and would drive up costs.

AAO filed a complaint with the inspector general of the Federal Transportation Administration after RTA twice denied deadline extensions by one or more manufacturers.

The costs of the new rail cars has been put at approximately $240 million. The transit agency is seeking new cars after a consultant said in 2019 that cars used on the Red Line are in poor condition and had a useful life of at most five years.

Cars used on the Blue and Green lines were said by the consultant to have a useful life of 10 years or less.

RTA Offers Free Rides as it Implements New Route Network

June 14, 2021

Greater Cleveland RTA kicked off a restructured route network on Sunday by offering a week of free rides.

The NextGen route overhaul is the first the agency has undertaken since being formed in 1975. Work on the new network began in late 2018.

RTA officials said the changes seek to provide more connections and more frequent trips on the busiest routes.

“We changed many of the routes. Instead of running once an hour, or once every half hour, now they run once every 15 minutes. And they do that all day long, not just during a traditional rush hour,” said RTA spokeswoman Linda Krecic.

New signs have been posted and the agency is trying to encourage riders to use a trip planning feature at the agency’s website.

The free rides are good on bus, rail and para-transit through June 19.

Riders who have questions can call an RTA help line at 216-621-9500, which is staffed Monday through Saturday.

RTA Director of Service Management Joel Freilich said the revised route network covers more of Cuyahoga County and thus better serves people not working in downtown Cleveland.

The route changes might have been implemented earlier but were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which seriously eroded RTA ridership for several months.

The new network has not been without complications. WOIO-TV reported on the plight of a 62-year old woman in the Glenville neighborhood of Cleveland who now has to walk 15 blocks to catch a bus after the route 38 bus stop she used to use was closed.

The TV station’s news department said it had received several complaints from viewers inconvenienced by the route changes.

In a statement to the TV station, RTA acknowledged that some riders will be inconvenienced by the changes and forced to walk a few more blocks to catch a bus.

“NEXT GEN represents a comprehensive redesign,” the RTA statement said.

“The system achieves the goals the community told us they valued: greater connectivity, is more accessible, reduced transfers provides greater frequency (including expanded weekend service on some routes that had not had weekend service in a decade) and over all is an enhancement for our community.”

RTA contended the new network design is better overall for all users.

A story published by The Plain Dealer noted that the network changes have confused some riders.

It cited the example of users of the North Olmsted Park-N-Ride and Transit Center.

RTA initially planned to end the Great Northern Boulevard Park-N-Ride service but decided at the last minute to create an alternative that provided a direct but longer ride.

RTA’s Freilich said the agency’s funding didn’t allow for the North Olmsted and Westlake Park-n-Rides to continue.

So agency officials decided to take the Cleveland State Line bus route and have some of its buses go to Park-n-Ride lots.

However, that means a longer ride because of the CSL’s routing via Lorain Avenue to West 210th Street and Clifton Boulevard.

Still, RTA officials are optimistic that the longer bus ride will appeal to those on the west side who don’t wish to ride the Red Line because they will be able to stay on the same bus all the way to work.

“You’ll still have two viable ways to get to downtown from that area,” Freilich said. “The Red Line will continue to be an option. And at the North Olmsted Park-n-Rides, you’ll be picked up by a No. 55 bus.

“At Westlake, it’s the same thing. There’s a different branch of CSU line. If you choose not to use the red line, you can still park in the Park-n-Ride for free. We’ll pick you up with a branch of No. 55. When you leave downtown — and if you’re going to Westlake — choose No. 55B or No. 55C.”