Inside RTA -- Summer 2017

 Inside RTA -- Summer 2017

Good news for RTA staff, customers and local taxpayers

METROHEALTH: RTA continues to be the national transit leader in selling naming rights sponsorships. The MetroHealth System has agreed to pay up to $4 million for up to 25 years to have its brand on 20 buses, 37 shelters and 400+ bus stop signs. MetroHealth has five health-care facilities along the route. The sponsorship will launch this fall, after new 40-foot Gillig clean-diesel buses arrive. The popular 51 family of routes serve Public Square, the main campus of MetroHealth on the Near West Side, and four suburbs. The additional revenue -- $125,000 the first year – will be used to upgrade landscaping and bus stations. RTA plans to apply for federal funding to add larger buses, traffic signal coordination and bus-only lanes during rush hours. Read more.

SUMMER FUN: Through Aug. 6, RTA offers a promotion that allows families to ride on RTA at a significantly reduced rate. GO RTA allows up to three children, age 12 and younger, to ride free when accompanied by a fare-paying adult, age 18 or older. “RTA is making it cheaper and easier for those who want to see the sites, tour local destinations and just be on vacation without ever leaving town,” said RTA CEO and General Manager Joe Calabrese. Show your RTA farecard or mobile ticket, and get discounts at many restaurants and venues in the area. Learn more.

DING! DING! As a pilot project through Labor Day, RTA is extending its C-Line trolley service to the growing Flats East Bank. Service operates from 7-11 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The C-Line trolley continues to serve the Warehouse District, Public Square, Playhouse Square, Cleveland State and the Huntington Convention Center. The Waterfront Line continues to operate until 7 p.m., seven days a week. It stops at the Flats East Bank Station, in the heart of the development. Average daily trolley ridership has blossomed from 800 to more than 6,000. All trolleys continue to be free with a smile. Read more.

THE BUS STOPS HERE: Every Saturday this summer, all Cleveland State Line trips will serve the lower beach level of Edgewater Park – part of the Lakefront Reservation of Cleveland Metroparks. The bus exits the West Shoreway at West 73rd Street, stays on the exit ramp to pick up and drop off customers, and then continues back up the ramp to the West Shoreway. Learn more.

PLAY BALL! The Indians play 81 home games in 2017, and RTA offers the most convenient, comfortable and direct transportation to each of them. Park free at a Rapid Station. Buy a $5.50 All-Day Pass for maximum convenience and value. Use the RTA CLE mobile ticketing app to purchase your ticket on your mobile device. Ride the Rapid to Tower City, and stroll down the 1,000 foot Walkway to Quicken Loans Arena. From there, it is a short walk outside to Progressive Field. OR, ride the HealthLine down Euclid Avenue to Public Square. If you work Downtown, hop on a free trolley to reach Tower City. Details.

SERVICE REMINDERS: Waterfront Line service ends at 7 p.m. Green Line service ends at 9 p.m. Red Line and Blue Line rail service is guaranteed to operate for 60 minutes after the game ends – even if the Indians play extra innings.

VANSHARE: RTA has added another mode of transportation – van pools – to help those customers who do not live on fixed-route service. A revenue-neutral program, it is open to all Cuyahoga County residents – even those who work outside the county. How you can benefit from Rideshare.

APPLAUSE! RTA staff members and agency win kudos

PERFORMANCE EXCELLENCE: RTA has received the prestigious Gold Award for Commitment to Excellence from The Partnership for Excellence (TPE). Awards were given to six high-performing organizations for “performance excellence through innovation, results and visionary leadership using the Baldrige Excellence Framework.” This is a step up from 2015, when RTA received the Silver Award for Commitment to Excellence. RTA CEO and General Manager Joe Calabrese, said, “It’s the hard work and commitment to excellence exhibited by the 2,400 RTA employees every day that is making RTA one of the most well-respected public transit agencies in the nation.” Learn more.

BUS SAFETY: RTA has received a Bus Safety & Security Excellence Award from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), for systems with 20 million or more passenger trips annually. RTA was saluted for creating and implementing one of the top safety and security programs in North America. RTA teamed with Lytex DriveCam to promote more responsible operating habits and to gather information on safe driving behaviors. Using this program, from 2014-2016, the number of claims went down from 1,557 to 957, and the number of safety events went down from 1,249 to 782. Learn more.

SAFE OPERATORS: RTA has saluted 30 bus, rail and Paratransit operators who have compiled a total of 665 years of accident-free driving. Joe Calabrese, RTA CEO and General Manager, called that feat “unbelieveable.” Leading the honorees this year is Ray Alan Bisaroe. Now age 54, he has been an operator for 33 years, and has been accident-free for 30 of them. Read more.

TRANSIT POLICE: RTA’s Transit Police have become certified by the Ohio Collaborative. The group was put together by the State of Ohio, on the heels of recent policing problems throughout the country. Members review a department's Use of Force, Hiring, Community Engagement and Telecommunications Training policies and practices. It is important to receive this certification, Transit Police Chief John Joyce said.

HONORED: Loretta Kirk, RTA’s Deputy General Manager for Finance & Administration, has been named one of 10 Women Who Move the Nation by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO). She has worked in transit for more than 37 years, and has held significant COMTO leadership positions on the national and local levels. She is well known for her efforts to mentor and develop young transportation professionals. Learn more.

SALUTE: Pete Anderson, RTA’s Chief Information Officer, has been named a Premier 100 Tech Leader by IDG’s Computerworld. The list spotlights 100 leaders from the technology and business sides of companies for their exceptional technology leadership and innovative approaches to business challenges. Joe Calabrese, RTA CEO and General Manager, says, “Pete’s focus on innovation is helping RTA achieve solutions that help us better serve our customers and incorporate the technology they’ve come to depend on.” Read more.

DIVERSITY AWARD: For an unprecedented fifth time, RTA received Best in Class honors for Workforce Diversity from the Commission on Economic Inclusion, in the category for large non-profits and government agencies. RTA was honored for its commitment to making diversity and inclusion a priority in all aspects of the organization. The Commission said RTA is an exemplary model for other businesses to follow. RTA is in the Commission’s Hall of Fame.

RAIL SAFETY: RTA has received a Certificate of Merit from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in the annual Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards, which recognizes rail systems throughout North America for their excellence in programs and operations. In the heavy rail category, RTA was saluted for implementing an Emergency Pantograph Lowering System that helps saves lives. The system, created by a RTA employee, keeps the Operator out of danger, and lowers the cost of claims, repair and maintenance to Red Line heavy-rail vehicles. Read more.

What RTA needs from State and Federal officials

MORE FUNDING: RTA CEO and General Manager Joe Calabrese has traveled to Washington, D.C., twice in recent weeks, to discuss increased transit funding with Congressional members. He chairs the Metropolitan Rail Discussion Group (MRDG). Made up of 11 of the nation’s largest transit systems, it represents 60 percent of transit customers in the USA. These agencies support 27 percent of the nation’s GDP and 22 percent of its jobs – on just 2 percent of its land area. Read more.

WHY IT’S NEEDED: “Research shows that 87 percent of all trips taken on public transit systems support employment or facilitate commerce,” Calabrese said. “It’s obvious that one of the most important factors in making America greater is a viable transportation system." The MRDG says that the State of Good Repair (SOGR) transit infrastructure backlog is more than $10 billion.

STATE OF GOOD REPAIR: RTA seeks support in obtaining additional federal and state funding for these high-priority State of Good Repair projects

  • $23.8 million for 2018-2020 bus replacement.
  • $7.4 million for a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station and related building upgrades at the Triskett Garage.
  • $10.0 million for rail infrastructure improvements.
  • $11.0 million for the Tower City Center Station and track rehabilitation.
  • $22.0 million for a communication system and replacing the computer-aided dispatch and automatic vehicle locator (CAD/AVL).
  • $8.0 million for the fiber optic system replacement on the Red Line.

UNFUNDED: RTA has a partial list of unfunded projects totaling $411.2 million that are not included in the Capital Improvement Program. They continue to be delayed due to lack of capital project federal funding.

  • $48.0 million for rail infrastructure upgrades.
  • $15.2 million for the East 79th Street Station ADA reconstruction.
  • $300.0 million for a rail car replacement program.

From East to West, major RTA projects stay on track

STATION OPENS: The huge parking lot and main entrance are now open on the east side of the new $12.5 million Brookpark Station – just a stone’s throw from Hopkins International Airport, on the Cleveland – Brook Park line. Work continues on the smaller west entrance. This station is the busiest station on the Red Line west of Tower City. Funding for Brookpark – and most major projects -- is usually 80 percent federal and 20 percent local. To check the status of any RTA project, go here. Read more.

GROUND-BREAKING: Community leaders and RTA officials broke ground on a new station they plan to build on the site of the current station on East 34th Street. Called the Campus Station, because it is near the Tri-C Metro Campus, the station serves all 3 rail lines and 3 bus routes. Federal funds will cover about 80 percent of the $6 million construction cost. When completed in late 2018, the Campus Station will be ADA-compliant. It is expected to be a major boost to the Campus District and the Opportunity Corridor. Instead of escalators and elevators, it will use an extended ramp design. Read more.

Lots of great news to celebrate as RTA moves forward

TRANSIT CAREERS: RTA, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Cleveland Job Corps Center have joined forces to teach and train the next generation of employees by providing real transit work experiences for interns. The Cleveland Job Corps Center will provide RTA with students for a five-week internship. The students will intern in various departments within the Operations Division, including Facilities Maintenance and Shelters. The goal: to provide real-life job experiences to the students, and to create a pipeline of applicants for skilled maintenance positions within the RTA. Learn more.

ESMS: All public transit benefits the environment, but now, RTA is taking sustainability to the next level. Recent examples:

  1. Select staff studied at Virginia Tech's FTA Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) Institute, which provides training and implementation guidance on the ISO 14001 standard.
  2. The Central Bus Maintenance Facility was selected as the pilot facility for ESMS development and implementation.
  3. RTA is expanding the ESMS program to both bus garages. The goal: to effectively integrate environmental considerations and stewardship into business decisions and actions at all levels.

SAVE YOUR $$: The average Clevelander can save $9,504 a year by switching from a car to a bus or Rapid, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). That’s about $792 a month in savings. RTA’s Commuter Advantage program makes this savings even easier by allowing employees to purchase Monthly Passes with payroll deduction and pre-tax benefits. To learn more, contact Jim Frick at 216-356-3058, or send a note here. With 15,000 riders from 800 employers, Commuter Advantage generates more than $17 million annually for RTA. Read more.

WEB SITE POPULAR: Each week, RTA’s Web site attracts more than 110,000 visits, and more than 9,000 users seek on-line help with trip planning. The Web site offers a wealth of up-to-date information to help current and potential customers easily ride RTA. Last year, more than 5.7 million people visited the Web site, and nearly half-a-million trip plans were produced.

SMILE FOR THE CAMERA: RTA now has video cameras on every bus and train. Every new bus comes equipped with video cameras. There are more than 4,180 cameras on RTA buses, trains, rail stations and other customer facilities. They have proven to be invaluable, both in preventing crime and in solving crimes that occur.

CNG FUELS RTA: Clevelanders are breathing cleaner air, now that RTA operates 106 buses fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG). More purchases are planned. Within a few years, the attractive red, white and blue coaches will make up the majority of RTA’s bus fleet.

In closing…

WE HAVE JOBS! RTA has openings in many key positions, including mechanics and operators. Help spread the word. RTA offers great benefits.

QUESTIONS? Learn more about RTA. To plan a trip on RTA, go here, or call the RTAnswerline, 216-621-9500.

ADDRESS CHANGES: Send e-mail here.

GOING GREEN: Inside RTA is available in text and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) here. It can also be sent to you as an e-mail attachment. RTA may soon offer this newsletter as e-mail only. To make sure we have your correct e-mail, send a note here.


  •  Joseph A. Calabrese, CEO/General Manager, Secretary-Treasurer
  •  George F. Dixon III, President, Board of Trustees