Riders call for increased RTA security ahead of fare hikes

One woman carries a Taser to protect herself
Posted at 5:14 PM, Jul 30, 2016

Residents of Cleveland are curious about what The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will do to give back to the community after they alter routes and raise fares beginning August 14

Fare's will increase by $.25 for cash fares, $1.25 for 5-trip fare cards, $10 for monthly passes, $2.50 for 7-day passes and .$50 for daily passes. Fares are set to increase again in 2018.

Corrine Dansby, a Cleveland woman who rides the RTA daily to her job at a Holiday Inn, said security is her main concern on the bus. 

"Get more police on the bus," said Dansby, with her young daughter by her side. "A man tried to hit me last Sunday on the bus. Do something for the people every now and again ... There's people on the bus harassing people, that's why I got me a Taser." 

Dansby said the increased revenue could be well-spent by increasing security on the buses and at the stops. Harassment and violence are an issue to her, and she doesn't want her daughter riding the bus if she can help it. 

This isn't the first time crime has been an issue on the RTA system.

Donovan Martin, another daily rider, said he was unaware of the $10 increase for monthly passes. He takes the bus every day to his job at Jakprints on Chester Avenue from Windmere Avenue in East Cleveland. 

Martin said that he thinks the RTA ought to compensate riders for the increased fare in some way. He suggested free weekends or improved customer service. Like Dansby, he noticed a lack of security on some buses. 

"Not every bus is safe to ride on," said Martin. "But a majority (are)." 

The question for riders like Dansby and Martin is what the revenue generated by the increased fares will go towards. 

"Our customers spoke, and we listened," said RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese. "Our goal was to overcome a projected $7 million budget shortfall while trying to satisfy the needs our customers. I think we've done that."

According to estimates by the RTA, the increased fares are expected to generate an additional $3.5 million in revenue. The board of trustees approved the fare increases after 16 public hearings meant to generate community input. There were protests that were organized in opposition to the changes

More than two dozen routes will be reduced or eliminated beginning in August. The fare increase is the first in over seven years.