Cleveland RTA Looks to Buy Time for Additional Revenue and Cost Cutting

Mar 8, 2018

Greater Cleveland RTA CEO Joe Calabrese says the agency needs more public support, and hopes the next governor will increase state funding.
Credit CLEVELAND RTA

Cuyahoga County’s public transit agency plans to put off some of the service cuts and layoffs that had been looming this year.

For Ohio Public Radio, WCPN’s Matt Richmond reports Cleveland RTA will still face a budget cliff in the next few years.

The transit authority’s CEO, Joe Calabrese, is asking the RTA board to cut 40 staff positions, furlough some workers and reduce capital spending by $5 million. That’s in addition to already passed reductions in route frequency that take effect Sunday.

“It buys time for advocacy," says Calabrese. "It buys time for us to look at some additional ways to cut our cost. Again, it’s a combination of cost and revenue that’s going to lead us forward.” 

Under the proposed budget, the agency’s current $34 million surplus would last through 2020.

Calabrese says a new governor after November’s election may support increased funding for public transit.  And, he said, the RTA needs public support.

“And we’re going to get more support if we don’t cut service and don’t raise fares to the public," says Calabrese.  "So I think it’s a new narrative. I think we need as many people as we can get on buses and trains because if we do go to the ballot box, those are going to be the first people to vote yes.” 

The board is also considering ways to generate revenue locally, though there have been no open discussions of what those sources might be. The RTA is mostly funded by a 1 percent countywide sales tax. The budget, a revision of one passed in December, goes to the full board for approval on March 27.