People rally against possible RTA fare increases

CLEVELAND, Ohio - LaQueta Worley-Bell is one of many who joined in the chats and protest today in front of the RTA headquarters.

“We just need our buses and we need our fares to stay right where they’re at,” she said.

She's been using RTA transportation for years now and when she got word that RTA is proposing to raise fairs and cut bus services she was livid.

“I was angry, I was upset, I was a whole ball of emotions. I’ve been riding the bus since I was 12; it is our lifeline, we go to school we go to church.”

The proposal seeks fare increases for buses, trains from $2.25 to $2.50 and Paratransit from $2.25 to $3.50, the largest increase of them all.

Joe Calabrese, general manager, RTA Public Transit said he understands people’s concerns.

"We’re not on different sides of this issue, we’re on the same side. The frustrating part is funds have been cut and funds have not kept pace with inflation so there’s only so much we can do,” he said.

But it’s not just the fare increases that’s got people all fired up, it’s also part of the proposal that plans to cut and reconfigure multiple bus routes and stop allowing people with special needs to get a free ride.

Diane Howard, was another protestor at today’s rally. She said, “As the community we fought to get the 81 along with councilman Cimperman helping us. Now they want to take it away from us, I don’t think that’s right.”

Today marks the first of more than a dozen public meetings RTA is planning on having to get the community's feedback on all the proposed changes.

“They have a need for more public transit, we want to supply more public transit…we want to do what we can to accommodate our customers every company wants to do that,” Calabrese said.

Be that as it may, LaQueta says she’s still nervous about what they’ll do about her main transportation route.

“I’m really hoping and praying that they don’t take the 8 Cedar Avenue bus, we need it.”

The service changes will likely take effect in August of this year if approved by the board, but  Calabrese reiterated that the proposed changes are not final, and they hope to accommodate consumers as much as their budget will allow.

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