RTA Riders Want Community to Help Cash-strapped Agency

President of the Amalgamated Transit Union local 268 Ron Jackson with SEIU members and Clevelanders for Public Transit rally outside RTA offices.
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The head of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority met with state budget officials Monday hoping to head off major budget cuts.  

Agency CEO Joe Calabrese says state officials seem open to the idea of making up for planned funding losses.  But it won’t happen any time soon. 

Ideastream’s Mark Urycki reports that local riders today (Tues) asked the whole community to help. 

 

One of the reasons Cleveland beat out a half dozen other cities to host the Republican National Convention was its strong public transportation system.  But when GOP party officials met in Cleveland a little over a week ago they passed a platform that calls for an end to federal funding for public transit and bicycle lanes. 

The group Clevelanders for Public Transit Tuesday rallied to draw support for lobbying Republican leaders at the statehouse. Activist Akshai Singh was among them.

“They came here because they had transit in Cleveland.  They had an RNC here because they had transit in Cleveland.  And what are they   doing at the same time in Columbus?  There cutting it to death.”

The RTA has already planned to cut service and raise fares next month to meet budget shortfalls but a change in state sales taxes on medical providers means the agency could see their budget drop by $18 million dollars a year.  The state of Ohio offers only a fraction of what most states do for public transit.

Singh wants local business leaders to lobby state legislators.

“I think [legislators] listen to folks like the Greater Cleveland Partnership and it’s time that they step up.  If they’re actually doing the homework on public transportation and what that means for economic development they’d see that this is something they have to fund.  Because thriving metros work on public transit.” 

Clevelanders for Public Transit Executive Committee member Rich Raphael says he wants a long term solution.

“We need to get people in this county, from RTA, from our organization, from county government, business leaders, education leaders,  leaders in the medical community to come together and let’s brainstorm.  Is there anything we can do locally to begin to stem this tide until we can figure a more permanent solution to it?” 

Raphael says public transit is a vital element of the local economy.

 

Mark.Urycki@ideastream.org

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