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The Sound of Ideas

Transit Riders Grapple With Cuts, Fare Hikes

Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2009

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Transit Riders Grapple With Cuts, Fare Hikes The struggles for public transportation systems keep getting worse. Consider the Greater Cleveland RTA, where CEO Joe Calabrese says they are projecting an $18 million drop in sales tax revenues. Combined that with other revenue shortfalls and it all adds up to service cuts and fare hikes. Wednesday morning at 9:00, we'll give you a chance to sound off, and we'll hear from the decision makers at transit systems across the region.


Economy, Regional Economy/Business - Analysis and Trends, Government/Politics, Other, Transportation


Joe Calabrese, CEO and General Manager, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Ed FitzGerald, Mayor of Lakewood
Karen Farkas, reporter, The Plain Dealer
Ray Jurkowski, General Manager, LakeTran
Scott Varner, spokesman, Ohio Department of Transportation
Louwana Oliva, Assistant General Manager, Metro RTA, Akron

Additional Information

Lakewood "Save the Circulator" blog

RTA Informational Meetings

Circulator Neighborhood Location Date Time

Lee-Harvard 801 Harvard-Lee Library Aug. 24 10 to 6
16918 Harvard Ave.

Southeast 802 Southgate Transit Center Aug. 10 10 to 6
5400 Warrensville Center Rd.
Maple Heights

St. Clair-Hough 803 Cleveland Pub. Library-Addison Aug. 18 10 to 6
6901 Superior Ave.

Lakewood 804 Lakewood Public Library Aug. 17 10 to 6
15425 Detroit Ave.

W. 117th Rapid Station Aug. 14 10 to 6
11631 Madison Ave.

Slavic Village 805 Cleveland Pub. Library-Fleet Aug. 19 10-5:30
7224 Broadway Ave.

Euclid-Euclid Beach 806 Euclid Library Aug. 20 10 to 6
631 E. 222nd St.

Tremont 807 W. 25th St. Rapid Station Aug. 11 10 to 6
2350 Lorain Rd.

West Shore 808 Westgate Transit Center Aug. 12 10 to 6
21159 Center Ridge Rd.
Fairview Park

Kamm’s Puritas 809 West Park Rapid Station Aug. 13 10 to 6
14510 Lorain Rd.

St. Clair /5 Points 820 Cleve. Pub. Library- Collinwood Aug. 21 10 to 5:30
856 E. 152nd Street

University Cir/ Hts 821 Cleveland Hts. City Hall Aug. 20 10 to 2
40 Severance Circle
Cleveland Heights

822 Westgate Transit Ctr. Aug. 12 10 to 6
21159 Center Ridge Rd.
Fairview Park

For more details and updates or to leave comments
• Call (216) 781-4299,
• Go to meetings

Leave a Comment

Please follow our community discussion rules when composing your comments.

Ryan 9:15 AM 8/5/09

Could a merger of transit agencies in Cuyahoga, Summit, Lake, and or Lorain counties help alleviate budget problems and give Northeast Ohioans an efficient regional transit system?

Sandra Ferrell 9:49 AM 8/5/09

RTA is often off track, by cutting service when it is needed by the community and then struggling to catch up, when the economy improves. That leads to consumers giving up and not bothering with RTA. Yet we are all paying the sales tax contribution. That is for a reason--to benefit our community. 

The budget gap needs to be managed, of course. But what of other options that may allow the circulator buses with heavy ridership to remain?

The big story about capital improvement money is that it can be refused; there is not a mandate that says it has to be taken. Why did Mr. Calabrese take a project on that he knew he would be struggling to pay for, year after year? The argument that the money would go elsewhere is not useful, for obviously, it has caused a burden.

Part of our problem is his desire to make RTA train-centric. Did he think about people need to get to the trains?
Did anyone really think of the additional costs or were they just excited to get a project?

The trains are very efficient, in many ways. Except for the transit police being used as unofficial arms of the sheriff’s dept, as they are running background checks on riders who are in violation of the fare rules. Why go through that, when a ticket can be issued without the added process?

Things improved for riders when he left New Jersey’s transit system. Rarely do I advocate people leaving a job but I wish the leadership would change at RTA. We need forward-thinking people who are not afraid to do what is best for the community and those who use the service. 

Cleveland cannot be a attractive place for people to live and work without a flexible and readily accessible public transit system. There has to be a way to balance the budget and still keep the system running well for consumers. After all, less customers mean less fares.

Maryanne Lutjen 11:55 AM 8/5/09

Was driving in my car - one of the few people that does not have a cell phone - but desperately wanted to talk to Joe Calabrese.

Am sure he would not remember being at a holiday reception at the City Club about 8 years ago.  I was at the table with him when he said the same thing he said today - “it was our turn to get the federal money, if Cleveland didn’t get it, 3 other states would.” These are our tax dollars that the federal government sets the perimeters for so whether it was best for Cleveland or not to use $200M for the Euclid Corridor that was the only way to get the money.  What sense does this make??  I saved an article from the PD where an op ed contributor called this a boondoogle!  Senator Voinovich was quoted as saying he wanted to be the first to ride on it, don’t know if he was but if so has he ever ridden it again????  Same for David Abbott of the Gund Foundation that it would get him back and forth in record time.  If I remember rightly the trip from University Circle to Public Square would save about 7 or 8 minutes!!!  And regular buses are still traveling the same route.  The few times I have seen those expensive buses they have been virtually empty.

Also speaking of empty buses why can’t the smaller circulator buses be used instead of the also empty buses I see regularly going down Green Road, Richmond Road, Fairmount Boulevard and even Lake Shore Boulevard.  Wouldn’t this same money? 

Wish I could have also heard all of ODOT - Pepper Pike applied for and received $2M of Issue 2 for New Brainard Road - MBNA did not enlarge (no longer in business) Sterling Lakes seems to be a financial bust - why didn’t the developer of Sterling Lakes and the Temple have to put in their own access roads instead of using our tax payer dollars not to our benefit.

Looks like the same thing may happen with the exits that will close off easy access to Carnegie.

AW 12:49 PM 8/5/09

Try thinking organizationally, not just financially.  It was a good observation that buses were sitting still, motors running, while a single driver had a coffee break, or waited for an official time to leave - or are parked ("service cut") after 7pm.  Buses could move constantly, as they do in Latin America: you go out on a street & catch the next moving public-transit vehicle; the streets are full of them.  It was also a good idea for a mayor to drive a bus for an hour - a “lunchbreak hour” out of the working day.  Lots of people can drive a familiar route for an hour as part of their paid jobs.  Variety is healthy - and resilient.  People can thus provide public-transit vehicles in the streets at all hours of the day and night.  Let’s think ORGANIZATIONALLY about existing resources: already maintained vehicles, already available people, and people already needing transportation.  There are a lot more “game pieces” to move around here, than just money, to make a well-working system.


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