Misadventures in mass transit, courtesy of the RTA

When Chris Allen’s car broke down on May 16, he didn’t curse his misfortune. He simply decided to go green. Armed with an RTA map and his bike, Allen decided to take advantage of our city’s often neglected public transportation system. It would be one of the biggest mistakes of his life. While Allen says he had no trouble getting from his home near Shaker Square to his job in Wickliffe, getting back home was an entirely different story. As Allen rolled his bike up to the RTA terminal in Public Square, he was quickly stopped by an RTA worker who told him that he wasn’t allowed to take his bike on the train during rush hour. He’d have to wait until 5:30 to leave. “It wasn’t a big deal,” he says. “I understood it was policy and knew that people wouldn’t want to get their shins bumped by some knucklehead’s bike.” But Allen’s wait didn’t end there. When he tried to enter the station just after rush hour, he was stopped again. Now, he was told, that there was an Indians game. “They said that no bikes were allowed on the trains during special events,” he says. Allen was growing impatient. Still, he waited until 7 p.m., when he was sure he could finally make it home. Wrong, again. The RTA worker told him that a Cavs game was getting started at 8 p.m. – he’d now have to wait until then to get on a train. “I can understand not wanting bikes on the trains into downtown,” he says. “But away from downtown? There weren’t any people on those trains!” Still, two transit cops, two supervisors, and a customer service agent all told him he’d have to wait. By the time Allen made it home, it was well past supper time. He immediately called RTA to complain. “No wonder no one uses public transportation,” he says. “The two days I did it, I had a whole bus to myself.” RTA spokesman Chad Self acknowledges that they messed up royally. “We sent him a letter of apology,” Self says. “We spoke with this gentleman, and obviously he was pissed. The deputy manager said he would be pissed as well.” That’s still not good enough for Allen. “The apology was nice and all. But what are they actually going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else?” – Denise Grollmus
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