CLEVELAND – Members of a Statewide Transit Needs Study will be here Tuesday, Oct. 21, to hear from key stakeholders and community leaders about the importance of public transit to the future of Ohio’s cities.
The meeting will be held from 2-4 p.m. in the George F. Dixon III Board Room on the first floor of Main Office of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), 1240 W. Sixth St., in the Warehouse District. The building is served by the free B-Line and E-Line trolleys.
Joe Calabrese, RTA’s CEO and General Manager, is a member of the Statewide Needs Task Force.
Need is up, money is not
As the demand for public transit increases and budgets shrink, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is working to develop a strategy to bring the most efficient and cost-effective improvements to transit riders and taxpayers alike, ODOT leaders said. ODOT is conducting five regional meetings during October to hear from civic leaders and planners, and then draft recommendations to better assess and deliver needed services.
Trends show that there is a definite rise in the need for convenient, affordable public transportation to jobs, medical appointments, shopping and recreational activities. Ohio’s transit agencies are struggling to fund existing service, let alone meet the increased demand, ODOT said.
Ohio supports a network of 28 urban and 33 rural transit systems. The study examines existing transit services, demographics and travel trends to quantify potential transit changes. The goal is to develop a long-term strategy to best stretch limited dollars, while meeting the demands of Ohio's riders today and in the future.
State funding cut by 80 percent
“There is no question that the need for RTA services is growing,” said Calabrese. “Over the last 10 years, State funding for public transit has been cut by 80 percent, and on a per capita basis, is one of the lowest in the nation. Providing viable options to driving is critical to a growing population who seeks options to get to schools, jobs and health care."
Calabrese says other critical transportation planning factors include the future physical and economic development of the region, the ability to provide needed services to visitors and tourists, and the need to attract and retain young professionals.
“Additionally, we are always looking for ways to improve service to those who have no other mobility options and to provide choices for those who choose not to drive. Reducing the region’s traffic congestion, parking needs and transportation-related negative environmental impact also remains at the forefront of our planning,” Calabrese said.
“Our goal is the help shape a long-term strategy for the needs of Ohio’s riders today and in the future,” he said.