CLEVELAND — Some RTA bus riders on Cleveland's east side are concerned that upcoming route changes will have a negative impact on their ability to get to work, appointments, and much more in the coming weeks.
The Cleveland Regional Transit Authorities "Next Gen" system redesign plan, which has been in the works since 2019 will get started on June 13.
Part of the plan includes the elimination of the route 38 bus in Cleveland's Glenville neighborhood, leaving daily riders like Brian Hagar wondering what impact it will have on dozens of low-income families who must now walk further to catch the bus.
“About these potential cuts, I’m way concerned," Hagar said.
"Older people have to stop and catch their breath, St. Clair is more than a mile away, like four blocks, five blocks."
“I'm worried about transportation for low-income families because I care for this Glenville area and I care for this community.”
Ward 10 Cleveland Councilman Anthony Hairston, and Ward 9 councilman Kevin Conwell are also concerned about RTA service cut impact in their neighborhoods.
“They were not given any notice or proper notice, or at least the chance to discuss some of the changes," Hairston said.
“What we are doing here is essentially creating a transit desert for the folks who live along this route.”
“I'm worried about the loss of service to the Five Pointe Community Center, that center provides pantry services, they provide produce, they provide seniors with hot meals daily."
"We are also deeply concerned on what effects it will have on young people’s education; along this route you have two K-8 schools.”
Joel Freilich, RTA Director of Service Management, told News 5 RTA will continue to meet with council members and the Glenville community to explore the possibility of additional route adjustments.
Frielich said the Next Gen plan has significant upside for many neighborhoods on Cleveland's east side and said the plan is making dramatic improvements to more than 20 bus routes.
He said riders will see big increases in bus frequency on Lakeview, St. Clair, and Superior avenues starting on June 13, a plan kick-off that includes free fare service on RTA buses, trains, and paratransit for an entire week.
"We will continue to consider what other fine-tuning adjustments might be made, to address that concern about the additional walk,” Frielich said.
But Chris Stocking, Chairperson with Clevelanders for Public Transit, told News 5 unless more federal funding and an RTA levy are put on the ballot over the next year, increased and improved service for all riders won't be possible.
“They really need to be held accountable and say when are we going to get more transit funding so we can restore the 30% of service that has been cut the past 15 years," Stocking said.
Meanwhile, RTA Board President Reverend Charles Lucas told News 5 he's working on the possibility of an RTA levy in 2022 and said the pandemic played a role in levy delays.
Lucas said the RTA just hired a new technical director and that exciting improvement in Cleveland's bus services is on the way.