public transportation

Bus and train ridership have plunged in Greater Cleveland as workers stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority ridership fell 50 percent last week, Chief Operating Officer Floun’say Caver told board members Tuesday.

While transit remains “the veins of Cleveland,” RTA CEO India Birdsong told board members, the agency is cutting back on services because of low demand during the stay-at-home order.

New RTA Budget Holds Steady Amid Ridership Decline

Nov 12, 2019
photo of RTA train

RTA expects a 4 percent drop in revenue from passenger fares, in line with a continuing decline in ridership. But more than three quarters of the general budget comes from sales taxes, and that income is expected to grow slightly in the next few years.

RTA’s Joel Freilich says staff will draw on a bus system redesign study to suggest route changes next year that won’t cost more money.

“While any net service expansion would have to wait for increased funding, there will be some things that we can accomplish in 2020," said Freilich. 

a photo of the senate transportation committee

Republican Senate leaders say it’s very likely they will make changes to the proposed gas tax increase. But that change was not included in the latest revision to the state’s transportation budget bill.

The House passed a 10.7-cent increase to the gas tax over the next two years. That means a driver would pay 38.7 cents a gallon in state tax when they fill up their tank.

photo of scooter

Some cities throughout the state have put regulations in place for light weight electric scooters. Now, state lawmakers are looking at doing the same thing statewide.

In the House version of the transportation budget, scooters couldn't go over 15 mph and would be required to use lighting at night. The rider would have to yield to pedestrians and give an audible signal when overtaking and passing a pedestrian.

Kids under 16 couldn’t use the scooters.

The bill also says scooters would be exempt from state registration, title and insurance requirements for vehicles.

A photo of Central Ohio Transit Authority bus in the Short North district of Columbus.

Mass transit advocates in Ohio got a huge surprise in the House version of the transportation budget – funding for public transportation soared by 150 percent over Gov. Mike DeWine’s original proposal. But they’re hoping the Senate will go along with that too.

The transportation budget approved by the House cut DeWine’s gas tax increase from 18 cents to 10.7 cents per gallon. And mass transit funding went from $40 million to $100 million.

photo of bus

As state officials are trying to figure out how to plug a billion dollar hole in the road construction and repair budget, House Democrats want a 25-fold increase in the state’s investment into public transportation. They said more public money into systems like buses and railways can actually help the state’s road construction budget shortfall. 

Democratic Representative Michael Skindell of Lakewood said the state should be spending $150 million on public transit – up from about $6 million spent now.

photo of Richard Cordray on bus

Richard Cordray says Ohio needs to do a better job at supporting public transportation at all levels, from big cities to small towns. The Democratic nominee for governor said investing in public transit is part of his larger plan to improve infrastructure.

Cordray stepped onto a COTA bus in north Columbus to see how new high-tech gear helps busses run routes more efficiently.

photo of METRO RTA transit center in Akron
Google Maps

She used to be a METRO RTA driver. Now Dawn Distler is the agency's new Executive Director. She’s returning to northeast Ohio after 15 successful years in transit management in Tennessee, in Nashville and in Knoxville. What brought her back, and what are her plans for METRO RTA’s future?

Picture of Ohio senate
Andy Chow

After joining the House in voting to override six of Gov. John Kasich’s budget vetoes last month, the state Senate was expected to come back this week to consider overriding more. But the Senate has cancelled the session. 

Photo of Sandra Ellington

A group of bus riders and union leaders from Cleveland was in Columbus today. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports the group is telling state lawmakers to dedicate more money to funding public transit.

Clevelanders for Public Transit, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and union representatives say the state needs to kick in more money to fund public transit.

Picture of a Cleveland RTA bus

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority passengers are facing either higher fares or less service as the public transportation provider works to close a $7 million budget gap.

State funding cuts are blamed for the bulk of the shortfall. RTA spokesman Jerry Masek says the agency is considering a 25 cent fare increase that would raise the cost of a basic ticket to $2.50.

Other possibilities, he says, include eliminating some routes, or reducing others.

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.