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Riders report RTA train breakdowns and delays point to growing funding needs

Posted at 10:30 PM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-18 07:58:54-04

A broken down train on the RTA Green Line left riders trapped and stranded for more than an hour, sending RTA staff scrambling to transfer passengers to another train.

Chris Stocking with Clevelanders for Public Transit was on-board when an electrical issue caused the Oct. 16 stoppage in a potentially unsafe area outside Tower City.

Stocking said RTA staff was forced to transfer riders without a platform.

He said the train breakdown was just one in a series of technical problems and service delays that he believes once again outline serious RTA funding issues. 

"RTA staff was trying to lift elderly people up onto these stairs, trying to lift them. Of course it's a safety hazard, it's crazy,"  Stocking said. "You can see all the old rail cars in the rail yard. They're pulling off parts off of those cars trying to make them fit."

"When you see buses delayed, buses cut, trains breaking down daily, that money is critical, that we get that money as soon as possible," Stocking said.

Stocking said RTA has been further stressed financially by state budget cuts and a significant reduction in sales tax funding.

Stocking said the cuts have forced RTA to run aging train cars for far too long, and reduce service by 25 percent while doubling fares since 2005.

Stocking is hoping an RTA rider will be appointed to the RTA board in the coming months to lend critical perspective that will hopefully get the agency on the road to recovery.

"Riders need to be at the table giving our concerns and experience there," Stocking said.

"If we're not in the room, I don't see how the system is going to change."

Cleveland Councilman Brian Kazy is chairman of the committee that will appoint the next RTA board member.

Kazy agrees having an RTA rider on the board would yield benefits.

"We need to make sure we get it right," Kazy said.

"The RTA board needs to take a very thorough look at their budget, the way they spend, how they spend and come with a solution to their financial problems."

RTA issued the following response after the Green Line breakdown:

"The process of removing the train and the single-tracking operations took more time than usual due to the location of the downed train and the difficulty of removing it from the tracks.

Additionally, for the safety of our passengers, a second train was dispatched to transfer the customers off the first train and onto a working train.

Unfortunately, because of the circumstances, customers had to wait during the process of removing the defective train and RTA providing the new train.

Our customers were inconvenienced and many were late arriving at their destinations.

RTA apologizes for the unavoidable delays and for the inconvenience experienced by our customers.  

RTA’s commitment to ensuring the safety of our customers and of our operations is always a top priority."