GCRTA Launches Website To Gather Public Input On System Redesign

A map of proposed route changes and frequencies through the GCRTA redesign proposal
A map of proposed route changes and frequencies through the GCRTA redesign proposal. [Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority]
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The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) is collecting feedback on its proposed system redesign through a website launched this week.

The website shows maps of current routes and proposed changes, giving visitors a chance to comment and suggest changes on the plan through the end, said Director of Service Management Joel Freilich,

RTA has postponed implementation of the plan until June 2021 to allow time for communicating route changes to residents.

“We want to make sure we’ve gotten plenty of time to give the public informational materials about what is the final proposal,” Freilich said.

RTA also plans to hold Facebook Live discussions to collect input from residents over the next few weeks, he said. Each session will focus on a different area of Cuyahoga County.

“Just for the sake of people who like the idea of talking to us at the moment while we’re listening, or listening to us at the moment that we’re talking,” Freilich said.

But seeking feedback primarily through online portals may limit participation from those who don’t have internet access, said Dana Beveridge with Clevelanders for Public Transit (CPT).

“A lot of people can’t do that,” Beveridge said. “A lot of times, those are the people that are going to be most affected by a change in routes and really we need to hear their feedback.”

The agency has considered alternatives to aid those without internet access, Freilich said, including sending hard copies to riders who call the transit agency and request them.

“It’s very important to us that we be able to explain our proposal to the public in full detail,” Freilich said. “It’s also very important that we be able to listen to feedback and comments on the proposal from the public by whatever means are most comfortable to them.”

Beveridge said more can be done to include people in the process offline, such as making paper versions of the information available in high-traffic areas such as train stations or on buses.

“It might actually be a lot more daunting and more difficult for those people to be getting in touch with RTA and getting those same levels of information as people who do have smartphones, who do have computers and laptops,” Beveridge said.

CPT met with transit authority officials in August to discuss ways to improve community involvement in the redesign process, Beveridge said, and specifically asked for more offline options.

The redesign and feedback-gathering process has not been drastically impacted the coronavirus, Freilich said, as officials already completed one round of public input in 2019 through online comments and in-person meetings.

But the GCRTA has faced difficulties in providing methods for public comment during board meetings, Beveridge said. The phone lines to call in don’t always work, she said, and comments submitted online were not always read aloud.

That creates concerns for how public comments on the redesign plan will be managed, she said.

“It’s been so hard with the public comment,” Beveridge said. “I really hope we don’t have similar snafus happening.”

The comment period is open through the end of November. A presentation with comments and opinions collected will take place during a Dec. 1 a board meeting.

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