Update: RTA Board Votes to Postpone August Fare Hike

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click to enlarge Transit advocates on Public Square Saturday. (Councilman Zack Reed and ATU Local 268 Prez Ron Jackson front and center.) - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
Transit advocates on Public Square Saturday. (Councilman Zack Reed and ATU Local 268 Prez Ron Jackson front and center.)

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority board of trustees voted at its Tuesday meeting to postpone a fare hike scheduled for August. The vote is in keeping with a February recommendation by the RTA's Operational Planning and Infrastructure Committee. RTA also announced that it would initiate quarterly meetings to discuss service changes and engage riders.

The local transit advocacy coalition Clevelanders for Public Transit (CPT) released a statement applauding the decision and calling for increased funding.

"The high cost of fares was cited as the leading concern for over 550 daily riders surveyed by Clevelanders for Public Transit, and rider engagement can only improve as a result of quarterly service change meetings," CPT wrote. "While these are positive steps, RTA’s Board of Trustees must act by putting a local levy on the ballot this year to escape the death spiral by addressing the funding crisis. Since 2007, fares have nearly doubled while service has decreased by nearly 25 percent."

Original Story (2/20/2018):

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) announced Tuesday that a fare increase scheduled for August will likely be postponed a full year while a study is completed.

The hike would have increased single-trip fares from $2.50 to $2.75, all-day passes from $5.50 to $6.00 and monthly passes from $95.00 to $105.00, an even more extreme cost burden on riders who already pay a larger share of their income for transit service than riders in any mid-sized city in the United States.

The RTA Board of Trustees, which met this morning, is likely to ratify the recommendation to postpone the hike at its meeting next month, a press release said.

“We need to take a look at the possibility of modifying our fare structure to best assure fairness and equity to our customers,” said RTA CEO and GM Joe Calabrese. “It’s critical that we study if there is a way to join with community partners to offer lower fares for our customers with lower incomes."

Calabrese noted that the biggest reason for the system's reduced ridership — which has declined dramatically over the past decade — is fare affordability.

Joining with community partners to find additional revenue streams (or to work toward more affordable fares) was in fact an explicit recommendation made by Clevelanders for Public Transit. The advocacy group presented a report on fare equity at Tuesday's board meeting.

"Clevelanders for Public Transit applauds the recommendation to delay and study the approved 2018 fare increases to ensure affordability and fairness for all riders, which was cited as the leading concern for over 550 daily riders surveyed in our first act as an organization," CPT wrote Scene in a statement on the decision.

"We now look to the full GCRTA board, who should approve this critical recommendation. We remain committed to escaping this death spiral by addressing the roots of the funding crisis, and partnering with RTA's board and staff to avoid further service cuts and fare hikes."

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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