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Monday, August 15, 2016

RTA Fare Increases Now in Effect, Bleak and Baleful Horizon Stretches Far as Eye Can See

Posted By on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 at 12:30 PM

Happy Monday, campers, and happy first day of school to all ye CMSD argonauts and argonaut-parentals. The good news these days is that the Indians are still in first place, the late-summer monsoons have arrived in force and our deep-Saharan drought is, at last, in the blessed rear view.

The bad news is that the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's fare increases and service cuts are now in effect. Beginning yesterday — Sunday bloody Sunday, indeed — standard one-way fares were bumped from $2.25 to $2.50, all-day passes went from $5.00 to $5.50 and the monthly passes have shot up considerably, from $85.00 to $95.00. Full list of fare increases (including Park-n-Ride and Paratransit), here.

The fare increases are the first such increases in seven years, and represent but one invasive prong in a multi-pronged effort by RTA to dry the tears of its weeping budgetary ducts. The increases, in fact, are only the first in a two-tier implementation strategy. In the current vision, fares will be raised again in 2018, but be forewarned: Given the potentially calamitous couple of years on the horizon, due to the restructuring of Ohio tax law, RTA may yet tinker with that vision.

Gird your loins and listen to this hot bit of perspective: In 2018, after the second round of increases, the monthly RTA pass will cost $105.00 for a regular rider. That's only $11.50 less than an unlimited 30-day MetroCard in New York City, and $5 more than a monthly pass on Chicago's expansive CTA system. 

RTA CEO Joe Calabrese has said that as much as 10 percent of current routes and hundreds of jobs could be cut to balance the books when the authority loses $4.5 million in 2017 and $18 million in 2018. (Read the Plain Dealer's Ginger Christ's thorough breakdown of the wobbly financial outlook here). 

For now, about 3 percent of routes have been axed or modified to save money on fuel and shave precious minutes off loops, thereby maximizing efficiency.

But the fare increases and service cuts arrive at shall we say a sub-optimal time: The city purports to be soul-searching while it amasses "baseline data" about traffic patterns on Public Square. There, RTA buses are bewilderingly no longer welcome.  

Mayor Frank Jackson, who's latest idea is building a $2 million dirt bike track in Kinsman, has decided that he'd prefer if the $50 million Public Square that was designed specifically for bus traffic didn't allow buses on Superior after all. Anyway, the city's gathering intel about how severe the pain in the ass will be. And every day they do, RTA's losing more money. 

What a year to be a sentient creature in Northeast Ohio! Paddle onward we must!

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