Cleveland’s Republican National Convention visitors have already been trickling in for the event but this weekend and next week will be a very busy time for public transportation. We’re digging into the changes made by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to accommodate the closed roads and barriers of the RNC.
"We've put a plan together that makes a lot of sense," said Joe Calabrese who is the General Manager of RTA. Because there will be so many roads closed off around the event, RTA has created makeshift hubs for the east and west sides. “Busses coming in from the east will have a little hub around E. 12th, E. 13th streets,” said Calabrese. “Busses coming in from the west will have a little hub around W. 3rd and W. 6th. And then we'll be linking those two hubs for those who can't walk or who don't want to walk with trolley service every 5 minutes."
That hub system was used during the Cavs victory parade...a day that saw chaos downtown and problems with moving so many people. Lessons were learned including what to do around E. 9th in the heart of downtown. "Which was an issue then that was the parade…(E. 9th) is going to be somewhat restricted now. That really is our concern."
Another concern is rider and employee safety. "Law enforcement (will be) on trains, on busses, at rail stations…just in case,” Calabrese told us.
The free trolleys will have extended hours with the host committee and the RNC picking up the bill for the added expenses. The B-line will run from 5 am until 1 am. The E-line from 7 am until 1 am.
Riding the rails is expected to be popular. The Red-line at Hopkins International Airport is seeing three trains instead of just two. The trains, in general, will be running every 10 to 15 minutes around the city. "My opinion, the best way to get downtown that week is going to be on the rail side of the business,” offered Calabrese. “No disruptions, no street detours. We have about 6,000 free parking spaces at our rail stations."
It's important to note: the Health-line and 19 other bus routes running 24 hours a day will not change at all. Tower City will be open during the RNC.
Calabrese told us their plan is adjustable and will be checked frequently. So, just be aware that the public transportation dynamic will be fluid, but RTA is confident. “We're feeling good,” explained Calabrese.
Some regular riders, though, aren't quite there yet. "I have the feeling that if I was to come back down here for the RNC, it was not going to be that easy," said Grace Vishnick from Parma.
Riders are counting on transportation clarity. "I'm just trying to make my way back (home) and that's it,” said Roevena Robinson from Cleveland. “And I'm hoping everybody else do the same."
For people who need to use the Para-transit services, Calabrese told us those busses cannot take people into the secure zone. When you call, RTA will explain where they can drop you off outside of the perimeter. They'll try to get you as close as they can to your destination.
Here’s a link for help using RTA during the RNC.