RTA Looks for Its Economic Impact on County

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The Greater Cleveland RTA board Tuesday approved spending to undertake a new economic impact study of its complete system in Cuyahoga County. The study from Cleveland State University could be used to promote a new tax increase. 

It’s been 21 years since RTA measured the economic impact its whole system has on the community.

RTA CEO Joe Calabrese says such a study could illustrate how transit sparks other investment and could also provide details on what might be lost.

“If we did have to, in the future, cut more services what would the negative impact of that be. There are many people who want us to do more. I’m in favor of that, but we can’t do more without more resources. 

“But it would be great to justify what the return on investment might be for those additional dollars that could be invested in public transit.”

Do you need this study finished before you come up with a tax proposal?

“I’m not going to talk about a tax proposal. That’s a ways off. I think this study could be and would be an important component of that to convince people does it make sense or not. But again this was planned before that process but this could be a tool.”

Some data from the study would be available in mid-November but the full report would not be finished until March.

Calabrese says state funding for GCRTA dropped from $43.5 million per year when he arrived in 2000 to $6.5 million this year when the state’s transit funding mechanism was changed.

In other action the board considered some changes to its own membership. After a scandal involving its former president George Dixon III, who sat 26 years on the board, the group will look to limit members to two, three-year terms.

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