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Cleveland RTA Considers Rate Hikes and Service Cuts to Balance its Budget

photo of RTA train

The board of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority reviewed several options Tuesday to raise fares and reduce service.   

The goal is to save $7 million and stay within its recently passed budget.

To meet its budget shortfall, RTA is looking to raise a little over $3 million by hiking fares and to save about $4 million by cutting bus and train service it considers underutilized. 

Some of the fare options call for raising the cost of a monthly RTA pass from $85 to $95 and possibly again two years from now.  

The price of transporting the disabled may also go up. General Manager Joe Calabrese says federal regulations allow transit systems to charge double for so-called “paratransit.”  

“RTA has never done that while most systems do that as a practice,."

One option raises the paratransit fare from $2.25 to $3.50. 

The agency has identified 19 routes that would see service cuts, taking 18 buses off the road. And Calabrese acknowledges that a few of the recommended cuts to rapid lines could hurt future development plans.

“The Waterfront Line is something that we really feel is ... an economic development engine for the city in the future as we’re trying to develop the Flats, East Bank and the lakefront project,” says Calabrese.

Calabrese and some board members put the blame on state officials who have cut Ohio’s public transit funding from $43 million in 2001 down to just $7 million last year. Calabrese says the Ohio Department Of Transportation’s own study suggests the state should pay 10 percent of the bill.

RTA will hold 10 public hearings on its proposals starting at the end of this month.