Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Greater Cleveland
Regional Transit Authority
Locale Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Transit type Rapid transit
Light rail
Heavy Rail
Bus rapid transit
Number of lines 1 rapid transit: Red line
2 interurban/light rail: Blue and Green line
1 light rail: Waterfront
62 bus routes:
1 Bus rapid transit
5 Freeway-Flyer[1][2]
Number of stations 18 rapid transit
34 light rail/interurban
8,557 bus stops including 1,332 shelters[1]
Annual ridership 44.68 million[3]
Began operation September 5, 1975
Number of vehicles 60 rapid transit cars
48 light rail cars
492 buses
80 ParaTransit shuttles[1]
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) Standard gauge

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (officially the GCRTA, but historically and locally referred to as the RTA) is the public transit agency for Cleveland, Ohio, United States, and the surrounding suburbs of Cuyahoga County. RTA is the largest transit agency in Ohio, providing over 44 million trips to residents and visitors of the Cleveland area in 2010. RTA owns and operates the RTA Rapid Transit rail system (better known as "The Rapid"), which consists of one heavy rail line (the Red Line) and two interurban light rail lines (the Blue, Green and light-rail Waterfront extension line). The bulk of RTA's service consists of buses, including regular routes, express or flyer buses, loop and paratransit buses. In December 2004, RTA adopted a revised master plan, Transit 2025, in which several rail extensions, bus line improvements, and transit oriented developments are discussed.[5]

RTA's major predecessor, the Cleveland Transit System, was the first transit system in the western hemisphere to provide direct rapid transit service from a city's downtown to its major airport.[6]

In 2007, RTA was named the best public transit system in North America by the American Public Transportation Association, for "demonstrating achievement in efficiency and effectiveness."[7]



The GCRTA was established December 30, 1974,[8] and on September 5, 1975 assumed control of the Cleveland Transit System (a successor to the Cleveland Railway), which operated the heavy rail line from Windermere to Cleveland Hopkins Airport and the local bus systems, and Shaker Heights Rapid Transit (the descendant of a separate streetcar system formed by the Van Sweringen brothers to serve their Shaker Heights development), which operated the two interurban light rail lines from downtown to Shaker Heights. A month later, the RTA assumed control over the suburban bus systems operated by Maple Heights, North Olmsted, Brecksville, Garfield Heights, and Euclid.[6]

The RTA had to undertake a number of renovations to the rail system, as the Shaker Heights lines (renamed the Blue and Green lines) had not been significantly renovated since their creation in 1920. They were largely rebuilt by 1981, and the downtown station at Tower City Center was heavily rebuilt by 1987. In 1994, a walkway and skyway was added from the Tower City station to Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena, and the Blue and Green lines were extended to the waterfront area by 1996.

Seventy-five Cleveland Transit System PCC streetcars were sold in 1952 to Toronto to be used by the Toronto Transit Commission. The last of the Cleveland models operated for 30 years in Toronto until 1982.

RTA has equipped all of its mainline buses with bicycle carriers. Each bus can carry two bicycles. Bicycles are also allowed on rapid transit trains (with a maximum limit of two per car) at all times, although operators have discretion to refuse bicycles if a train is overcrowded. Bicycles are not allowed access to/from the Public Square/Tower City Station through the shopping areas of Tower City Center. However, an elevator connection is permitted between the station lobby and street level, at Prospect Avenue via the south-side doors. Bicycles are also allowed to transfer between trains at Tower City Station. There is no additional charge for taking bicycles on RTA.

Euclid Corridor Project

A HealthLine bus rapid transit,a New Flyer DE60LF-BRT, at Public Square

In 2005, RTA began building a bus rapid transit line along Euclid Avenue from Public Square to University Circle and then to East Cleveland. This was originally to be a subway line running under Euclid Avenue, but the high cost of such a project caused it to be reduced in scope, resulting in the current bus rapid transit project. The Euclid Corridor project also included a complete rebuild of Euclid Avenue from storefront to storefront, bringing with it new sidewalks, landscaping and trees, lighting, and a large public art initiative, that proponents of the project hope will spur investment in the city's traditional main thoroughfare.

a New Flyer DE60LF-BRT, at Public Square

The Euclid Corridor Vehicles (ECV) operate in an exclusive center median busway from Public Square to East 107th Street and transitioning curbside through University Circle to the Windermere Rapid Transit Station in East Cleveland, one of RTA's most highly used facilities. The ECVs connect services to the Red Line and other service routes. These low-floor, articulated 62 feet (19 m) buses are quiet, environmentally friendly, and served by a low-sulfur-diesel engine to power smaller electrical motors mounted near the wheels of the vehicles. A few of these buses have been ordered with a standard Allison B500R6 transmission instead of the Hybrid propulsion system.

Included in the project was funding for the integration of several public art components.[9] In addition to art installations and other aesthetic improvements, more than a dozen interactive touchscreen kiosks were placed along the corridor. Each kiosk includes transit timetables and RTA news, as well as audiovisual exhibits focusing on the history of Euclid Avenue and the city of Cleveland.[10] More than 60 historical sites, themes, and people are represented on the kiosks, which utilize oral history audio, historic and contemporary images, and brief historical essays to curate the city's history.[11] The kiosks were created by the Center for Public History and Digital Humanities in the history department at Cleveland State University and were designed by Epstein Design Partners in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Naming rights for the line were purchased by the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals for twenty-five years. The BRT route, originally named the "Silver Line", which serves the two major health industry employers in Cleveland, is named the HealthLine.[12]

As sections were completed, they were opened to traffic; the entire stretch within the project area was open by October 24, 2008[13] as part of its grand opening October 24–26, 2008.[14]


When RTA was formed, Cuyahoga County voters approved a 1% county-wide sales tax, which constitutes about 70% of its operating revenue. This funding source has helped RTA maintain a higher level of service than other transit agencies in comparable cities, and it also helps RTA retain some degree of political autonomy. However, it also makes RTA unusually susceptible to economic downturns.

In recent years, RTA has undertaken great efforts to improve efficiency and eliminate unnecessary costs. These efforts have included mergers with the two remaining autonomous transit agencies in Cuyahoga County, the North Olmsted Municipal Bus Line and Maple Heights Transit, and the redesigning of its routes in the suburban areas southeast, west, and south of Cuyahoga County.


A Shaker Rapid car at the Warrensville Center Road Loop in 1936
These Tokyu cars, first put in service in 1985, serve the Red Line to the Airport from Windermere

Effective September 1, 2009:[15]

Bus Rapid Park-n- Ride Bus Loop/ Circu- lator Senior/ Dis- abled* Para- transit† Out-of- County Trolley
Cash   $2.25   $2.25   $2.50 $1.50   $1.00   $2.25 $3.50 Free
All Day Pass‡   $5.00**   $2.50
5 Trip Farecard $11.25 $11.25 $12.50 $7.50   $5.00 $11.25
7 Day Pass $22.50 $22.50 $25.00   $10.00 $22.50
Monthly Pass $76.00 $76.00 $85.00 $32.00 $76.00
* All Senior/Disabled cash fares, farecards and passes require passenger to show valid RTA Senior ID, RTA Disabled ID or Medicare card.
ADA certified Paratransit passengers may ride fixed-route bus and rapid service at no cost.
All Day Passes are available for purchase on all RTA vehicles at the farebox and at retail agents. They provide for unlimited rides on rapids, regular buses, Park-n-Ride buses, loop buses, and community circulators until 3:00 a.m. the next day.
** All Day Passes for children are $2.50.

RTA buses


RTA's coaches are numbered by the year of the bus. For example, Coach 2509 is a NABI 2005 coach. Except the 9500s and the CNG 9700s, which are 1998 model coaches.

Numbering system:

  • 63xx-64xx are handicapped and Circulator buses. The 6300s are Orion Model IIs while the 6400s are Thomas Built SLF30s. The Orion IIs feature the Cummins ISB engine with an Allison AT545 transmission. The Thomas Built SLF30s come with the Mercedes Benz model 904 four cylinder diesel engine. Transmission is believed to be the Allison B300R. RTA discontinued all Circulator Service in September 2009. The 64xx series has been repainted to the standard Silver, Red and Blue color coaches and are waiting further orders at the Woodhill Garage Graveyard.
  • 90xx-94xx are the Flxible Metro series coaches; as of May 2008, In early 1995, RTA purchased 6 suburban style Metro D coaches from NJ Transit. These were labeled 9300s although they are 1994 year models. All of these coaches have been retired. They come with a host of engine/transmission options as listed:
1990: Cummins L-10E/Voith 863ADR
1991: Cummins L-10E/Voith 863,864ADR
1992: Detroit Diesel 6V92TA/Allison VR-731 ATEC
1994 Ex-NJ Transit: Cummins C8.3E/ ZF Ecomat 5HP590
1994: Detroit Series 50G/Allison VR-731 ATEC
  • 95xx&97xx are Nova Bus RTS coaches. About 80% are laid up at the Woodhill Garage awaiting disposition. These come powered by a Detroit Diesel Series 50G/Series 50E engine hooked to an Allison VR-731 ATEC. Also under the 9500 numbering are 10 1995 Flexible Metro D coaches. These are suburban style buses with the numbering 9501 to 9510. They come with the CNG fueled Detroit Diesel Series 50G engine and the Allison VR-731 ATEC transmission. All of these coaches have been retired
  • 99xx&21xx are the Nova Bus LFS series from 1999 and 2001 respectively. Comes powered with the Cummins ISC engine, mated to an Allison B400R5 ATEC. These buses come out of Hayden Garage and some can now be seen using the new Silver, Red & Blue color scheme. These coaches are currently laid up at the Woodhill Garage Graveyard awaiting disposition. Its unclear weather the buses will be put back into service, stored, sold or destroyed.
  • 22xx-28xx are the current NABI 40-LFW series. From 2600 up, these have the massive Cummins ISM engine and B400R5 transmission while earlier coaches come standard with the Detroit Diesel Series 50EGR engine and B400R5 transmission.
  • 29xx-Euclid Avenue New Flyer DE60LF-BRT Coaches. These come equipped with the Cummins ISL engine and Allison EP40 Hybri-Drive system. These coaches are used only on the Healthline. A few of these coaches have been ordered with the Cummins ISL engine hooked to an Allison B500R6 transmission.
  • 30xx are the New Flyer D60LFR articulated series coaches out of the Triskett Garage. Currently service on lines 22 & 26 are only available. These buses are 62 feet long with 3 doors and uses ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel. Engine is the Cummins ISM hooked to an Allison B500R Transmission.
  • 10xx/17xx-18xx are MCI Greyhound style coaches. The 1000s are 40 footers, basically a transit styled 102D3 except 1050 and 1051, which are 45 footers based on the 102DL3 coach. The rest are your basic D4500 in transit style. All buses come standard with the Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine and Allison B500 transmission. All coaches come with a stage 1 Jake Brake.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "About RTA - RTA Facts". Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  2. ^ "Timetables, Maps & Schedules". Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  3. ^ Cleveland's RTA sees number of riders decrease for the second straight year, The Plain Dealer, 2011-1-20
  4. ^ "Business Center: Procurement". Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  5. ^ "Planning & Development - Transit 2025 Plan". Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  6. ^ a b "About RTA: History of Public Transit in Greater Cleveland". Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  7. ^ Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (October 1, 2007). Greater Cleveland: Best Location for Public Transportation in the Nation. Press release. Retrieved on October 6, 2007.
  8. ^ "Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority". The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Case Western Reserve University. 1997-06-16. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  9. ^ Integrated Art Installed Along Corridor. RTA Euclid Corridor Silverline project page Retrieved on April 6, 2009.
  10. ^ Euclid Corridor Oral History Project. Cleveland State University Retrieved on April 6, 2009.
  11. ^ Euclid Corridor Transportation Project (Virtual History Kiosk). RTA Retrieved on April 6, 2009.
  12. ^ Clinic, UH pay to name Euclid Corridor buses. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved on March 4, 2008.
  13. ^ "RTA's HealthLine Officially Opens Along Euclid Corridor". WEWS-TV. 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  14. ^ Cleveland RTA Healthline Special Section, The Plain Dealer, 2008-10-19
  15. ^ "Fares". Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 

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