RTA owes service to Westshore suburbs
But fuel cost increases put agency in
tough spot, board member says
By Kevin Kelley
Published July 30, 2008
Mayor Dennis Clough, a member of RTA’s board of directors, urged
public transit riders who will be affected by the agency’s recently
announced service cuts to attend upcoming public hearings.
Clough said he plans to attend the first meeting,
scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Rocky River Civic Center.
Clough said he has received three phone calls from
commuters concerned over the proposed cuts.
In addition to the service cuts, RTA also plans fare
increases. If, after the series of public meetings, the cuts and
fare increases are approved by the RTA board, they will go into
effect in October.
Five bus routes serving the Westshore would be eliminated:
#43 Lake – Wolf, #46 Detroit, #49 Center Ridge, #87F Westwood /
I-90, and #96F Butternut – Hilliard. RTA is also considering the
elimination of all community circulator routes, including the 804
Lakewood Community Circulator, the 808 West Shore Community Circulator,
and the 822 Southwest Community Circulator.
Also, the #52 Westgate-West Park and #55F West Shore
Flyer lines will see reductions in service.
The #75X North Olmsted line will become a Red Line
feeder route operating between North Olmsted and the West Park Rapid
Station only. In North Olmsted, the runs along Porter, Wisteria,
Oring, Lansing, Devon, Tudor and Berkshire will be discontinued.
The #70 Bunts – West 150th Street line, which
serves parts of Lakewood, will end weekend service.
Under the proposed fare changes, a ride on a bus or
rapid car would jump from $1.75 to between $2.25 and 2.50, according
to an RTA news release. Riding a bus from one of the many Park-N-Ride
lots popular with many commuters would increase from two dollars
to between $2.75 and $3.00.
An all-day pass, which now costs four dollars, would
rise to between five or six dollars.
Clough said neither he nor other board members were
involved in selecting which routes would be eliminated or experience
cuts in service. The mayor, who was in Chicago last week meeting
with financial experts on the city’s bond rating, had not had a
chance to review RTA’s proposed cuts when interviewed by West Life
on Friday. However, he appeared concerned that one-third of the
bus routes slated to be cut serve Westshore commuters.
Most of RTA’s operating funds come from a 1 percent
sales tax paid by Cuyahoga County residents.
“As suburbanites, we probably pay more of that sales
tax than we receive in services,” Clough said. “We probably pay
a disproportionate share of the sales tax to fund RTA in relation
to the amount of service that we’re provided.”
Clough said he believes RTA is therefore obligated
to provide at least a minimal level of service to the suburbs.
RTA’s current service to Westlake, Clough said, consists
largely of the Park-N-Ride bus routes and the circulator routes,
which RTA wants to cut.
“I will continue to stress that point — that as long
as these suburbs are continuing to pay a portion of that sales tax,
then we should have some service out here,” the Westlake mayor said.
Clough said the 1 percent sales tax has kept RTA in
better financial shape than other transit systems that rely almost
solely on state funding. However, he wants the state government
to provide additional funding to RTA.
RTA officials said the fare hikes and service cuts
are necessary due to the recent increases in fuel costs. The agency
faces a $20 million deficit in 2009, officials said.
“Obviously RTA is in a tough situation,” Clough said.
“We can’t spend more than the dollars that are available.”
“You don’t want to eliminate service that people depend
on every single day just to get to where they need to go,” Clough
Clough said when RTA makes cuts, a city such as Westlake
is asked to provide transportation services to affected people,
especially senior citizens, through the municipality’s community
“We keep adding drivers. We keep adding vehicles,”
Clough said of his city’s transportation services. “But it’s not
going to solve all the transportation needs.”
North Olmsted Mayor Thomas O’Grady said he has been
in contact with RTA officials about the proposed cuts.
“It’s a matter of concern for us because of the cuts
which would affect North Olmsted,” O’Grady said. “We are trying
to address this and will continue to stay in contact.”
He said city officials initially considered trying
to have a meeting about the issue in North Olmsted but instead will
be going to the Rocky River meeting and reiterating their concerns
there as well as with RTA directly. He said the city could still
have a meeting of its own, if it is deemed necessary.
Nicole Dailey Jones, the chairwoman of North Olmsted
City Council’s Streets and Transportation Committee, said she has
heard from residents about it.
“We’re worried because many people in North Olmsted
use the RTA services,” she said. “This will affect a lot of people.”
Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland said her city
is also concerned.
“There are Bay residents who use RTA’s services, particularly
to get downtown for work,” she said. “We want things to be as efficient
as possible for them. There are routes running in Bay which would
be affected and we are concerned about that.”
Sutherland, who is running to be
Cuyahoga County commssioner, said the commission should be
involved in the issue.
“Certainly it’s a county-wide concern because of the
people and cities it affects,” she said. “This is something we will
be addressing in the campaign as well because of its impact.”
Fairview Park Mayor Eileen Patton told West Life that
several riders of the #75 and #96 lines from her city have written
her with their concerns about the proposed cuts. Patton said she
plans on attending the Monday meeting.
Several of the buses slated for elimination serve
Darryl Whitehead, the retail and residential development’s
general manager, said the cuts are unfortunate because Crocker Park
was designed with RTA and mass transit in mind.
However, Whitehead said that most shoppers come to
Crocker Park by car. Fifty thousand vehicles come there every month,
“Everything in the economy hurts right now,” Whitehead
said when asked if the transit cuts would hurt Crocker Park. “It’s
unfortunate. We don’t want them to cut the service by any means.
But we understand.”
Additional public meetings on the proposed cuts and
fare hikes are scheduled for the following times and locations:
• Aug. 5: Noon, Cleveland Public Library Auditorium,
325 Superior Ave. NE
• Aug. 5: 6 p.m., Cleveland City Hall Room 220, 601
E Lakeside Ave
• Aug. 6: 6 p.m., Cleveland Heights Community Center,
One Monticello Blvd. at Mayfield Road
• Aug. 7: 6 p.m., Brooklyn Senior Community Center,
7727 Memphis Ave.
Those who are unable to attend a public meeting can
send comments by Aug. 18 to RTA at the following address:
RTA Marketing and Communications Department
1240 West Sixth Street
Cleveland, OH 44113
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