Rider's Digest -- January 2020

Happy New Year from RTA’s CEO & GM

As the holidays wind down and 2020 begins, let me take a moment to thank you for the support and trust you have shown us in recent months.

With your critical community input, we were able to gather your feedback to help inform the agency’s pillar studies underway this past year. We looked at fares, system redesign, economic impact, rail cars, and more, all in an effort to listen more closely to you, our customers.

In the months ahead, we welcome your continued participation as we put that hard work into motion and deliver on our most important goal: providing the service you need. Service that is consistently reliable, on time, safe and clean. Service that gets you where you need to be—and safely home again.

On behalf of our hard working bus and rail operators, mechanics, Transit Police officers, customer service and all our staff, thank you again for riding GCRTA, and we look forward to serving you throughout the New Year.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season,

India Birdsong,

CEO & General Manager

RTA Can Help With Your New Year’s Resolution

Happy New Year from RTA! We’re excited to welcome 2020, and in addition to providing safe, reliable, clean, and courteous transportation, we’re also happy to help with your New Year’s Resolution.

If you’re trying to live more sustainably, taking public transit will significantly reduce your carbon footprint. If you’re trying to be more responsible with your finances, we offer an affordable alternative to cars—you can save up to $8,000 a year, just by taking RTA to work every day. If you’re trying to read more, allow us to handle your commute while you dive into a new best-seller. If you’re aiming for a healthier lifestyle, public transit encourages physical fitness since you have to walk to and from your stop. (Not to mention, you’ll be much calmer with someone else at the wheel during rush hour.) If you’re trying to do more exploring, RTA is an awesome way to see everything Cleveland has to offer.

Ultimately, public transportation has so many great benefits that you can find something new to appreciate every day of 2020. We hope to see you often this year!

RTA’s Schedule for the Holidays

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 20), RTA will operate a regular weekday schedule. The Main Office Building and Tower City Pass & Farecard Sales will be closed, but the Telephone Information Center will be open from 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

On Presidents’ Day (February 17), we will operate a regular weekday schedule as well.

Now Hiring Mechanics, Operators, and Transit Police

RTA is now hiring full-time vehicle operators and mechanics, and part-time transit police officers. We offer competitive wages, awesome benefits (including health insurance and a pension), and all the training and certifications you’ll need to succeed in these positions. 

New Park-N-Ride Vehicles Arrive

RTA recently received nine new Park-N-Ride vehicles. The buses, which are manufactured by MCI, have a fresh look with a new paint scheme and updated exterior graphics. These coaches will replace vehicles that have significantly surpassed their 12-year useful life.

The new Park-N-Rides will also come equipped with Wi-Fi, which is great news for those who like their commutes to be as productive as possible.

These vehicles should be ready for service in January, so look for them on the road!

Finally, thanks to a recent ODOT grant award, RTA has exercised an option early this year to receive three additional Park-N-Ride coaches, which we expect to be delivered in late summer of 2020.

Employee Spotlight: Fred Wilson

Fred Wilson, one of RTA’s Electronic Equipment Technicians, has been with RTA for 28 years, and for the past 14 years, he’s also been training young boxers in the Fairfax neighborhood. He developed a passion for boxing at a young age and found stability and structure in the sport, which helped keep him out of trouble.

Fred has trained over 500 kids, both boys and girls, including his own children. “It’s a long journey for those who love the sport and want to go pro. Boxing involves long hours of training focused around cardio, form, and stamina.” Fred takes great joy in teaching children the basics and watching them grow and improve with their skills.

Fred’s wife JoAnn, a fellow RTA employee, has helped immensely with the organization of travel, fundraising, and overall support of Fred’s dream. “Fred is passionate about what he does. He takes pride in helping with youth programs. He genuinely enjoys spending time with the kids. We think of these children as our own, so to us, they are family,” says JoAnn.

Check out his training videos on Instagram @Team216_boxers.

When he’s not at the gym, Fred is a knockout employee, and we’re happy to have him at RTA!

Fare Equity Study Concludes

Earlier this year, five “pillar” studies were undertaken to provide a foundation for the Authority’s next strategic plan. One of these studies was a review of our current fare structure. LTK Engineering was commissioned to complete this analysis. 

The yearlong study incorporated an extensive community engagement plan that included an on-board survey, an online survey, and many community meetings. Recently, LTK Engineering shared their findings as well as recommendations with RTA’s Board of Trustees. 

Here’s a summary of the study


  • The current design of RTA’s bus/rail network requires nearly half of all customers to transfer to complete their trip.
  • About half of the customers, who would be best served by using a monthly or weekly pass, are actually paying more than necessary. (Many customers don’t use the more-cost effective fare option because they either can’t afford it, don’t know where to buy it, or just find it hard to get.)
  • Current Park-N-Ride surcharges add complexity to the fare structure without raising significant revenue.
  • Although most transit agencies charge the maximum allowable for Paratransit (twice the base fare), RTA does not.
  • RTA’s aging fare equipment is becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and doesn’t meet the future needs of the Authority.


Immediate low-cost changes:

  • Make pass and fixed trip fare options available at more locations in the community.
  • Better communicate fare options and how/where to buy them.

Important changes with greater financial impact:

  • Reduce the cost of the All-Day Pass from $5.50 to $5.00.
  • Raise the Park-N-Ride surcharge.
  • Adjust Paratransit fares, especially passes, to better reflect the higher cost of providing the service.

Longer-term improvements with a new fare collection system:

  • Implement a smart card that offers a reduced price transfer and stored value options.
  • Offer regional fare options that are valid for both neighboring transit agencies as well as other multi-modal options like Uber/Lyft, scooters, bike shares, and taxis. 
  • Offer customers a fare option that provides fare capping to ensure a best—fare option, based on cumulative transit use over a given period of time.

Early in 2020, RTA management staff will review the consultant’s findings and develop a plan that best addresses the needs of our customers. This plan will then be presented to the Board of Trustees for their consideration. Thank you all who participated in this study. We look forward to sharing with you proposed changes in our fare structure as we move forward.