Rider's Digest -- February 2018

 Rider's Digest -- February 2018

March service changes help RTA address $20M cut in annual revenue

Because of a change in rules that took effect July 1, 2017, RTA’s annual revenue from a countywide sales tax has been reduced by an estimated $20 million.

Ohio can no longer collect sales tax on managed health-care costs (MCO), because it does not apply sales tax to similar services paid for by those other than Medicaid.

“This loss of $20 million annually would be devastating to RTA, our customers and our workforce. It represents seven percent of our operating budget, and could mean the elimination of up to 200 jobs,” said RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese.

RTA serves about 44 million customers annually, and invests $800,000 per day to provide services. As a result of this funding loss, RTA needs to reduce its expenses by approximately $55,000 per day by 2019.

“Our goal will always be to provide as much first-class transportation service as possible with the revenues we generate,” Calabrese said. “We are working diligently to develop a plan to either find new revenue sources or reduce expenses – or likely both – in order to have a sustained and balanced budget, as required by law.”

The Board will consider a revised budget in March. RTA is considering other options to balance the budget.

Changes coming March 11

Some routes will be changed, effective Sunday, March 11. RTA plans to decrease the frequency of 15 of the system's 52 bus routes. These changes will help RTA reduce expenses by about $4 million annually.

Later this month, you can pick up new timetables for the Red Line, Blue Line, Green Line, Waterfront Line, Cleveland State Line, 5, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 19, 22, 26, 30, 34, 39, 39F, 48-48A, 51-A-B-C MetroHealth Line, 76, 77F, 79-79A, 81, 83, and 94.

Some changes deserve special mention.

  • 5, New alignment via Richmond Road, Harvard Ave. and Orange Place to better serve University Hospital’s Ahuja Medical Center, Harvard Park, Tri-C Eastern Campus and Pinecrest.
  • 14, New Downtown alignment via Ontario St., Superior Ave., Chester Ave. and CSU. POSTPONED
  • 15, New Downtown alignment via Ontario St., Superior Ave., Chester Ave. and CSU. POSTPONED Realigned off of Eaton Blvd., near the Tri-C Eastern Campus.
  • 19, New alignment via Warrensville Center, Emery and Northfield roads to better serve the new Amazon Fulfillment Center at the former Randall Park Mall site, and provide better connections with route 41. The current temporary Downtown alignment of eastbound trips is now permanent. From St. Clair Ave., buses turn left on Ontario instead of W. 3rd.
  • 39/39F, Trips to/from the Euclid Park-N-Ride will go through Bratenahl and carry a 39 route number.

Where to obtain new timetables

Real-time information for the new timetables will be available as soon as the changes are effective.A

Feb. 24: Celebrate art, music, fire, fun at Brite Winter event

RTA is the official transportation partner of the ninth annual Brite Winter Festival, an outdoor winter celebration of art, music, fire and fun, from 3 p.m.-midnight on Saturday, Feb. 24. This free event is centered near the intersection of Main Avenue and Elm Street on the Flats West Bank.

Transportation: With a $5.50 All-Day Pass, you have 2 options.

  • Ride the Waterfront Line to the Settlers Landing Station from 3-7 p.m. The Waterfront Line operates until 7 p.m. OR
  • Ride the Red Line to the West 25th Street Station from 3 p.m.-midnight. On Saturdays, the last eastbound Red Line train leaves that station at 1:46 a.m., and the last westbound train leaves at 12:47 a.m.

Either way, Brite Winter will provide a free shuttle to take you to the festival site.

You can also ride the 22, 26, 45, 79, 81, or MetroHealth Line to West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue. From there, it is a short walk. All these routes offer service until midnight.

More than 15,000 persons attend this event annually. Enjoy more than 30 bands on 2 outdoor stages and several indoor stages. View more than 20 outdoor art displays, keep warm around fire rings and fire barrels, and enjoy the fare from various food trucks.

Feb. 16-25: Free trolley ride + discounted meal = a great deal

RTA’s trolleys are ready to take you to fine dining at a discount, during the 11th annual Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week, sponsored by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance. The event runs from Feb. 16-25. More than 50 quality restaurants will offer lunch and dinner specials.

RTA trolley rides are free with a smile from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. on weekends. Trolleys operate on three routes. All trolleys stop in front of Tower City on Public Square, so transfers from the Rapid to trolleys are convenient.

Ride RTA to skate at 2 area ice rinks

February is your final month to enjoy skating at two area outdoor ice rinks. Each rink closes around March 1.

RTA continues to provide transportation to ice rinks at Public Square and Wade Oval.

  • To reach Public Square, ride any Rapid to the Tower City Station and walk outside, OR ride the HealthLine.
  • To reach Wade Oval, ride the HealthLine on Euclid Avenue to the decorated Museum Stations near Stokes Blvd. and Stearns Roads, and walk north on East Boulevard.

Each rink charges a fee, and each offers rental skates.

Feb. 19: RTA operates weekday schedule on President’s Day holiday

On Monday, Feb. 19, RTA is closed for the Presidents Day holiday.

  • RTA will operate on a weekday service schedule.
  • The Telephone Information Center will be open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • The Paratransit Call Center will be open from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • The Customer Service Center at Tower City will be closed.

2018 capital plan focuses on upgrades to rail infrastructure

RTA's $115.9 million capital budget -- separate and distinct from the operating budget -- includes federal and state grants. Much of the focus in 2018 is on upgrading rail stations and track.

“It’s important for RTA to maintain its assets in a State-of-Good-Repair,” said Joe Calabrese, CEO & General Manager. “We depend on them to help carry more than 150,000 customers a day.”

Besides completing work on the East 34th Street rail station in 2018, RTA will:

  • Begin a $1.6 million project to upgrade the Farnsleigh Station on the Blue Line.
  • Start a $5 million reconstruction at the East 116th Street Station, just west of Shaker Square.
  • Upgrade track on the Red Line, between the West 117th Street and West Park stations, for $5.3 million. This will help eliminate “slow zones,” and improve track safety at normal speeds for rail cars.
  • Upgrade two key tracks at Tower City for $15 million. Track 7 will be used during this project.
  • Begin major behind-the-scenes projects to improve radio communications for $11.6 million, improve three electrical substations for more than $6 million, and upgrade a vital fiber optic communications system for $5.9 million.

New buses

RTA will spend accept delivery on 33 Gillig CNG buses, purchased for $15.9 million.

RTA will also spend $6.5 million to buy 9 commuter coaches, for use at Park-N-Ride lots, and $13.3 million to purchase 27 Gillig CNG buses. They are expected to be delivered in 2019.

Looking to the future

RTA will begin a comprehensive Rail Study to determine how to replace the entire rail car fleet, currently estimated at $300 million.

For Your Safety: Learn evacuation procedures on light-rail trains

Riders on the Blue Line, Green Line and Waterfront Line should read these emergency evacuation procedures. They are posted inside every rail car.

  • Listen for instructions from the operator, and follow them.
  • Exit the train in an orderly manner.
  • Help those in need, such as children, senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
  • Leave large packages behind.
  • Exit instructions, written in red, are located on a panel above each door.

To open the side doors:

  • To release the closed doors, push the red knob over the door.
  • To open the doors, place one hand on each of the red circles on the doors, and push.

After the doors are open:

  • On bridges and other elevated structures, open only the doors that face the tracks.
  • If there are downed wires, remain in the train.

If you step out and are not at a station platform:

  • Be aware of trains operating on nearby tracks, and stay clear of them.
  • On bridges and other elevated structures, open only the doors that face the tracks.
  • If there are downed wires, remain in the train.