Support transit in Cleveland Heights

The Cleveland Heights mayor and City Council have sent a letter to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) pointing out deficiencies in transit service for Cleveland Heights and other eastside communities, and noting how proposed cuts in service will further exacerbate deficiencies (see below).

It could be helpful if Cleveland Heights residents sent endorsements of this letter to RTA General Manager Joseph Calabrese ( and GCRTA board members prior to June 7. The RTA board is due to vote on proposed cuts at a special meeting on that date.

Here is a link to a website that provides RTA board members’ e-mail addresses: Please note that RTA lacks funds to continue operations at current levels so it must make some cuts, but the problems go beyond that. 

Thank you for your support.

Here is the letter CH City Council sent, which clearly explains the issues:


May 4, 2016

Joseph A. Calabrese, General Manager, and Board Members: George F. Dixon, III, President; Dennis M. Clough, Vice President; Valarie J. McCall; Karen Gabriel Moss; Nick "Sonny" Nardi; Gary A. Norton Jr.; Leo Serrano; Georgine Welo; Rev. Charles P. Lucas; Trevor K. Elkins

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority1240 West 6th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113-1331

Dear Mr. Calabrese and GCRTA Board Members:

Cleveland Heights residents and elected officials are very concerned by transit service cuts and fare increases contemplated by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. In short, the proposed changes in service affecting Cleveland Heights residents will create a financial hardship for many, serve as a disincentive to live on the eastside and commute downtown, and undergird a growing inequity between the east and west sides.

The Cleveland Heights Transportation Advisory Committee has identified significant disparities between the cost and availability of basic public transportation service to downtown Cleveland for residents of Cleveland Heights and other eastside communities compared to westside communities. GCRTA’s proposed service cuts and fare increases will further limit public transit access from Cleveland Heights to primary destinations and will exacerbate existing cost and service disparities vis-à-vis westside communities.

We request that the GCRTA address the substantially disparate service between east side and west side by retaining service of the #37 bus from Severance Town Center to the Green Line Rapid. Further, we ask that GCRTA consider reinstating at the earliest opportunity the #7, #9 and #32 single ride service to downtown. Finally, we ask that transfers to and from the HealthLine and Rapid Transit lines for eastside bus lines be made readily available for single-fare farecard holders.

Following is a detailed explanation of the situation.

Proposed service cuts

  • The proposed elimination of the #7 bus route on Monticello east of Richmond Road and the #32 bus route east of David Myers Parkway will eliminate public transit access for residents of Cleveland Heights to eastside employment, medical and education centers such as those at Alpha and Beta Drive, Montefiore Home, Menorah Park and Ursuline College.
  • The proposed elimination of the #37 route south of Severance Town Center affects an important feeder route from Cleveland Heights to the Shaker rapid lines—a particularly unfortunate result for the underserved Cleveland Heights residents living in the public transit desert south of Cedar Road, who will also lose service to Severance Town Center and Euclid Hospital.
  • We note that, according to census data, commuters in three of the census blocks of census tract 1407 on the west side of South Taylor Road and north of Cedar Road use transit at rates well above the average of 5 percent for Cuyahoga County. These include Census Block Group 390351407011 which has 9.52 percent of commuters who use transit, Census Block Group 390351407013 with 8.13 percent of commuters who use transit, and Census Block Group 390351407021 with an impressive 18.09 percent of commuters who use transit!

Proposed Fare Increases

  • Under the current proposal, regular single-ride fares would increase from $2.25 to $2.50 in August 2016 and to $2.75 in August 2018. Similar increases are proposed for senior/disabled fares. Single-ride fares do not include transfer privileges.
  • As a result of a series of service cuts implemented over the past few years, GCRTA does not offer any single-ride service to and from downtown for residents of Cleveland Heights. To reach downtown from Cleveland Heights, one must transfer from a bus to the Red Line train at the University Circle or Little Italy stops or to the HealthLine at Euclid Avenue. Consequently, a Cleveland Heights regular single-fare ticket purchaser pays $4.50 ($5.00 in 2016/$5.50 in 2018) to reach downtown by public transit and $9.00 ($10.00 in 2016/$11.00 in 2018) for a round trip, to say nothing of the time and inconvenience of having to transfer.
  • While transfer privileges are included in the all-day pass, 7-day pass and monthly pass, all of these are priced at premiums above the equivalent number of two single-ride fares. Transfer privileges are also included in the 5-ride card, which is priced without premium or discount. All of these options require advance planning, additional cash outlay and, for the passes, additional cost in comparison to single-ride purchases.

East Side vs. West Side – Inequitable Single Ride Access to Downtown

GCRTA’s service guidelines set forth three basic categories of bus service, including (1) service along developed corridors to and from major centers such as the downtown business district ("local radial service"), (2) fast line-haul service to major destinations such as downtown under high peak-period rider conditions ("express/flyer service"), and (3) service used to link routes or route segments through transfers to bus or rail ("crosstown/feeder service"). GCRTA provides crosstown/feeder service only to Cleveland Heights and the other eastside communities located along Cedar, Mayfield and Monticello. In contrast, GCRTA provides local radial service, express/flyer service and crosstown/feeder service to numerous westside communities located along Clifton, Detroit, Pearl Road and Lorain Avenue.

Because of the disparity in allocation of local radial service, public transportation to downtown is more costly and substantially less convenient for residents of Cleveland Heights than residents of comparable westside communities.

The lack of convenient service to downtown is a disincentive for downtown workers to live in Cleveland Heights or neighboring eastside communities, particularly younger workers for whom the availability of public transit is an important amenity. The same is true for Cleveland State University students, for whom GCRTA student passes are included in their mandatory fees.

Similarly, the lack of convenient service to Cleveland Heights from downtown is a disincentive for tourists and the growing number of downtown residents to visit and spend money at Cleveland Heights businesses.

We fully appreciate that GCRTA has limited resources and is facing significant budget challenges, but we think there is a reasonable basis for questioning whether those limited resources are being equitably allocated among inner ring suburban communities.


To summarize, the previous, recent elimination of single ride service to and from downtown via the #9 bus line, as well as the curtailment the #7 and #32 bus lines to the east, already makes public transit much less efficient and comfortable for a great number of Cleveland Heights and eastside residents. The elimination of the #37 bus line south of Severance Center further exacerbates the problem. The change in fare structure eliminating a single ticket to downtown also makes transit substantially more expensive, even beyond the proposed fare increases. A lack of availability of transfers is a major issue regarding east vs. westside service. As just one example, having to purchase a 5-ride pass to avoid paying double for a ride downtown is a burden for sporadic users of public transit, particularly those who are financially strapped.

We ask that the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority proactively rectify disparities in service between east and west side communities.

Yours truly,

Cheryl L. Stephens, Mayor; Jason S. Stein, Vice Mayor

Council Members: Mary Dunbar, Carol Roe, Kahlil Seren, Michael Ungar, Melissa Yasinow

Mary Dunbar

Mary Dunbar is a member of Cleveland Heights City Council and president of the Heights Bicycle Coalition.

Read More on Opinion
Volume 9, Issue 7, Posted 1:14 PM, 05.30.2016