CLEVELAND - The newly renovated Public Square has been open for more than one month, but still service on Superior Ave. is closed to RTA buses.
On Monday, RTA posted this message to its Facebook page, informing riders the original plan to open the newly constructed bus lanes through the Square has been pushed back, indefinitely.
In response to the delay, Dan Williams, the media relations director for the City of Cleveland, said no final decisions have been made about if and when the lanes would reopen.
Read the city's full statement below:
Mayor Jackson is dedicated to ensuring that Public Square remains a place for public transit in the City of Cleveland. Now that the Republican National Convention has concluded and the normal flow of motorists and pedestrians resumes, the city is analyzing traffic patterns through and around the Square to determine if there is an opportunity to further realign or restrict traffic on Superior Avenue.
This is a preliminary process and no final decisions have been made. The City of Cleveland is focused on achieving the proper balance between pedestrians, public transportation and motorists. Public transit on the Square is vital to connecting residents and visitors with all the amenities our city has to offer.
Buses have been routed around the Square since construction started began in March 2015.
Clevelanders for Public Transit and ATU Local 268 issued this statement on Tuesday:
Clevelanders for Public Transit, a organization of riders, labor, and community allies, called on Mayor Frank Jackson to forgo considerations to keep the newly renovated Public Square closed to buses permanently. Members of the organization noted that closing the space, which was originally renovated with stakeholder input to include buses, would make the space less accessible for riders and add more than $1 million to RTA’s operating costs.
"I was looking forward to having a beautiful public space to catch the bus, but I guess that is not the Mayor's plan. It's disappointing because the Square has not even opened to RTA yet and the road was built to accommodate buses. It may not seem complicated to have buses go around the Square, but this would add over $1.5 million operating cost per year to RTA, money that they don't have because of their budget shortcomings,” said Chris Stocking, a member of Clevelanders for Public Transit. “I have talked to other riders and the average time to get around the Square seems about 7 minutes each way, that's over an hour extra time on the bus each week for commuters.”
The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 268, which represents bus drivers, train operators, mechanics, and other RTA employees, echoed the calls for Mayor Frank Jackson to open up Public Square to buses.
“We are opposed to cutting the buses through Public Square because it will have a negative impact on the community. Superior Avenue is the only direct way by bus to get from the East Side to the West Side,” said Ron Jackson, ATU Local 268 President. “The buses should be able to go straight through Public Square- we should make it easier on the people to get back and forth to work. Public Square was originally designed with buses in mind- it’s not fair to the riding public.”
Clevelanders for Public Transit encourages the public to take action and call on the Mayor to keep Public Square open to buses by emailing his office or calling at (216)664-2900.
The RTA has not yet responded to our request for comment.