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RTA ridership numbers spark potential cuts while bike shops see profit

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Posted at 9:26 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 23:26:05-04

CLEVELAND — The number of people riding trains and buses in Cleveland still plummeting despite more folks heading back to work. RTA reports ridership is down 60%. The company continues to operate with suspended service routes, but it seems more people are investing in a new pair of wheels.

Between the state’s stay at home order and businesses closing temporarily roads in Cleveland over the past couple of months were bare.

“Just looking out through the front windows of our shop we get a pretty good feel of how many people are out riding going up and down Detroit,” Alex Nosse, owner of Joy Machines Bike Shop.

Nosse said business has been great.

“On our busiest days we're probably helping maybe 30 or 40 customers whether it be some sort of repair or just selling them parts, accessories or of course, in some cases, selling them complete bikes.”

Nosse credits some of his success to Greater Cleveland RTA’s dip in ridership numbers.

“I would hope that RTA bounces back,” he said.

RTA spokesperson Linda Krecic said before the coronavirus outbreak, 100,000 people were using RTA buses and trains on an average weekday. Now, that number is down to just 38,000.

“We’re projecting a loss of about $22 million for 2020 in terms of passenger fares,” Krecic explained.

And that’s not all.

Krecic said they’re estimating another big loss in Cuyahoga County sales tax revenue as retail stores are just starting to reopen. RTA receives 1% of that tax for operating costs.

“We may be looking at a loss of about $91 million in sales tax for the year so those two combined were seeing a loss of about $113 million.”

To help make ends meet, Krecic said they’re looking to make $22 million worth of cuts this year. However, Krecic said those cuts will not impact customers and employees. She said the company will pair those savings with about $112 million from federal relief funding.

“Not only are we seeing a loss, but we’re putting the dollars out there in terms of providing disinfectant enhanced cleaning, personal protective equipment to our operators and staff and a host of other things that we have done to keep our customers and our operators safe,” Krecic said. “What will actually happen we don’t know, again, those are projections. We won’t see sales tax revenue numbers for another three months. There’s a three-month lag from the time that those sales tax dollars are collected to the time of the reported to RTA.”

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