RTA new trolley controversy: People are outraged, but is it simply a misunderstanding?

CLEVELAND - Just a few weeks ago, demonstrators marched outside the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority headquarters about their recent fare hikes and bus route cuts.

“Many of the service cuts are in the lowest income areas of the city…people just can’t afford it, it puts just too much of a hardship on them,” said Rich Raphael, an active member of the Clevelanders for Public Transit group.

Now the tension rises as some riders are upset about the new trolleys that will be coming to Cleveland just in time for the Republican National Convention.

“People are outraged they feel so disconnected from the whole process. They’re really wondering why $6 million can be found to spend on 12 new trolleys and yet we have this $7 million shortfall,” Raphael said.

But is it just one big misunderstanding?

Linda Krecic, spokesperson for the GCRTA, said it is.

"It’s really important to note that RTA isn’t incurring one dime of cost related to the RNC. What RTA did receive is 12 new trolleys paid for by the Ohio Department of Transportation.”

That being the case, those funds are strictly being used for those updated trolleys.

“What we are providing is just our regular daily service to our regular daily customers, we are not providing any extra service for delegates or media,” said Krecic.

“If the state has money to give us capitol dollars then why are we having such a problem getting state government funding to go into RTA’s operating budget to help them off-set this budget shortfall?” Raphael responded.

His said his group will continue to fight for what they deem as fair.

“We are determined to stay the course and see these things get accomplished long-term.”

The group plans to head to the capital building early next week to lobby for financial changes, in hopes State government officials will hear their voices and make this issue more of a priority.

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