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RTA Trustees Ask For More Specifics In Fare Study

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is still searching for ways to combat declining ridership.

An RTA committee on Tuesday heard presentation from consultants who surveyed how riders pay and what changes they’d like to see. The report found that many riders think the daily pass costs too much, while they don’t use transit enough to support other options.

Committee members said while they appreciate the report’s findings, it doesn’t illuminate much they didn’t know before.

Justin Bibb, a member of RTA’s Board of Trustees’ External Stakeholder Relations and Advocacy Committee, said he hoped for deeper analysis.

“What are the key things we should be looking for in terms of how we’re collecting fares, what streams of revenue make sense, what are the right targets and how do you balance that out with the rider experience?” Bibb asked.

LTK Engineering’s Rick Halvorsen, didn’t have a lot of answers to committee members’ specific questions. Changing the daily pass could increase ridership by roughly 270,000, he said. But LTK estimates that could cost RTA as much as $1.3 million.

“It is impossible to actually predict what would be the impact of any fare changes, but this gives an idea of what the magnitude of the changes are that you would be looking at,” Halvorsen said.

The next step is to figure out what works for the RTA in terms of operation and technology, RTA CEO India Birdsong said. The study gives Cleveland’s transit authority a list of goals to work toward and the authority needs to come up with actions to get there, she said.

“They’re the base level of what we need to move forward,” Birdsong said. “I would expect that we would do a deeper dive, whether that’s with LTK or on our own.”

Other recommendations from the report include increasing the availability of five-trip fare cards, improving communications about fare options and raising the park-and-ride surcharge.

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