RTA announces compromises on fare hikes and service cuts at board meeting, but is it enough?

CLEVELAND - The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is still trying to make ends meet by raising fares and cutting routes to make up for a $7 million shortfall.

Their ‘fix it’ plan sought to modify service and increase rider’s fares, but push back from the community has got them re-thinking just how much they should change things.

Riders and protestors were anticipating a final vote today, but that vote was postponed until their next meeting in order for the board to make a few more revisions, which riders told me they appreciated the effort, but there's still a little skepticism.

“The State’s not coming to our rescue, they’re not coming,” Mayor Trevor Elkins of Newburg Heights and one of RTA’s Board Members.

Joe Calabrese, General Manager for RTA public transit added, “The budget time is ticking, the longer we wait to act, the bigger the deficit will become.”

After nearly a dozen public hearings, he and his team announced today that they’ve readjusted their original budget proposal.

“We asked them to give us specific information, where they travel from? Where they travel to? When they travel? So we can best adjust our schedule within those budgetary parameters to serve their needs,” said Calabrese.

Initially, a major sticking point for riders was the proposed paratransit fare hike of $1.25, but that's now been reduced to $0.75 instead.

“I’m pleased that there’s an on-going process,” said Cleveland resident, Alanna Faith, who relies on paratransit as her main source of transportation.

Another compromise is to modifying Route 81 near Lakeview Terrace and other similar routes, which is mostly used by senior citizens and special needs consumers.

“The buses would continue to deviate down to those two complexes, but not 24/7, they would do that weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.,” Calabrese said.

Faith reacted to the news during the meeting today saying, “There were some compromises. Were they as deep as what we would have liked, I don’t think so. Routes are still being cut, fares are still being increased.”

That's why board members decided to hold off on the vote.

“The same way we’re willing to fund paying for a football stadium or paying for a baseball stadium, this is important, if not more important, to the future of the economy of the region,” said Elkins.

The board will be looking over things again and plans to make a few more revisions before they vote at their May 10 meeting, however, opponents say they're not very optimistic that a decision will actually be made at that time. 

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