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GCRTA System Redesign Brings Faster Service, Some Confusion

The RTA system redesign was based in part on community input gathered from meetings and surveys. [Tim Harrison / ideastream]
An RTA bus driving around a curve in the street.

Updated: 11:31 a.m., Wedensday, June 16, 2021

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is rolling out its much-anticipated system redesign this week, increasing the frequency of some bus lines, but limiting service in other areas.

Implementation of the redesign has gone well so far, said Clevelanders for Public Transit Chairman Chris Stocking.

“Most riders that we’ve heard from really like the changes,” Stocking said. “There’s a lot of new routes, there’s more new jobs riders are able to access.”

Many of the changes are the direct result of result of public feedback. In the years-long process, riders indicated they preferred more regular service in high-traffic areas, even if it meant losing stops elsewhere.

The transit agency is waiving fares for this first week of new services. That is helping to speed up the process, Stocking said, as people aren’t waiting as long to get on buses. It could serve as an outline for how to improve efficiency moving forward, he said.

“That’s good and maybe something RTA should look at as like, what something like all-door boarding or something like a proof of payment system would look like,” Stocking said.

While many of the changes are getting positive feedback, there is some confusion on select routes, Stocking said, particularly Route 25 along Madison Avenue in Lakewood and Cleveland’s West Side.

The route was supposed to include late-night service under one proposal, Stocking said. Instead, buses stop running at 7 p.m. on weekends and 8 p.m. on weekdays. Confusion over that change has prompted some complaints, he said.

An RTA spokesperson told Ideastream Public Media via email that “evening service” includes all routes that run past rush hour. That includes Route 25, where service continues until 8:01 p.m. eastbound and 8:08 p.m. westbound.

“We understand where there may be some confusion,” the email said. “If no service is provided past rush hour, the route is not included in the ‘evening’ category on both interactive map and bus stop signs. However, if there is SOME service past rush hour, the route is included in the ‘evening’ category on the map and sign.”

Weekday daytime service along that route has improved from hourly to half-hourly, RTA said, and weekend service has shifted from no service to half-hourly.

Stocking said RTA could be doing more in general to reach out to riders during the transition. The transit agency should try harder to hear from riders who don’t have internet access in particular, he said, and can't access the web portal showing changes.

“They’ve relied a lot of online surveys, but they haven’t done as much direct rider outreach as we’d like,” Stocking said. “There’s no paper maps available of the entire system-wide changes.”

RTA does have printed versions of the changes for individual routes available, and is answering questions about the redesign by phone for riders without internet access.