Why do I ride RTA?

Submitted by lmcshane on Tue, 06/16/2009 - 08:42.

Dear Mr. Calabrese,
I would hope that your agency would attempt to prevent the future bedlam, negative impressions of public transportation and economic loss to the community in terms of late employees etc. associated with the poor public planning evidenced here.

Really--we can and should do better.

Laura McShane

--- On Tue, 6/16/09,

From: GM
Subject: Re: Commendations and complaints
Date: Tuesday, June 16, 2009, 9:00 AM

Thank you for your comments.  However, RTA is not involved in planning major events or controlling traffic in the City of Cleveland.  This is the responsibility of the City, and your concerns should be directed to your elected City officials.  We appreciate people using our services to attend events and will share your compliments of Operator Horace with his managers.  

> 06/15/09 6:23 PM >>>

Dear Mr. Calabrese,
First let me compliment your drivers, who endured inhumane bus crowding and anger today with grace and dignity.  Today was FREE Monday at the Zoo, so your staff was subjected to gridlock that paralyzed the entire Pearl Rd. corridor from Broadview and Memphis north to Clark Ave.
Passengers and RTA drivers were subjected to overcrowded buses, delays, confusion and stress.  I had to go downtown today and on the way back, several buses packed to capacity passed me by at Market Square in Ohio City, because they had no room to accommodate additional passengers.  I finally caught a ride with a #35 driven by Horace on bus 2224 at 4:16.  With the patience of Job, he navigated and negotiated the horrible traffic and unruly passengers, including wheelchair passengers at Metro. 
I fault administrators, the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Metroparks for allowing a public safety and security crisis of this magnitude to occur during Free Mondays at the Zoo.  I have cc.d my council reps, because this type of gridlock should not occur, especially around a major hospital such as Metrohealth. 
Your agency and the City of Cleveland needs to coordinate better traffic control and contingency plans for major events at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  I would also strongly suggest that the policy of FREE days at the zoo be reconsidered or at the very least moved to Fridays to avoid the complete bedlam witnessed today.
Laura McShane
( categories: )

St.Patrick's Day

We tried to take the Green Line from Shaker downtown to St. Patrick's Day this year and after watching several full trains go by got in the car and drove... it did not seem like there was any extra service or extra cars operating on that massive transit occasion... I was shocked.

Do they provide any customer satisfaction surveys and data?

Disrupt IT

st pats 08

 last year (2008) i thought it would be fun to walk from CSU to tower city on st pats and then take the rapid home to OC.

what a dumb idea.

the walk was fun - lots of funness going on  - but the train station in the tower was surreal. they had not scheduled extra trains (in fact, they were running slower than usual) the station was packed with people, many disorderly with RTA cops looking on. the trains would immediately pack to capacity so i kept thinking i'd just wait for the next one, but they were running so slow, it made no difference. after an hour (in the terrible din) and the third train packed and gone, i decided to bite the bullet and wait by the platform edge for the next one. 

the next one came and some doofus thought it would be funny if as soon as the doors opened he were to push on people's backs and walk his feet up the nearby pillar - essentially bench pressing the crowd into the train. i was among children and elderly and it was several moments of terrifying panic - as well as physical danger. i could see the two RTA cops standing over to the side with bemused expressions.

of course i wrote to RTA management and received no reply.

apparently they must not have cared this year either...


  This was the response to my letter:

Thank you for your comments.  However, RTA is not involved in planning major events or controlling traffic in the City of Cleveland.  This is the responsibility of the City, and your concerns should be directed to your elected City officials.  We appreciate people using our services to attend events and will share your compliments of Operator Horace with his managers.  

Great to know that when the going gets tough, RTA administrators pass the buck...and round and round we go, over and over, ad nauseum....

Save our Ride

Folks may have missed this story buried in the Plain Dealer--


Please see above post.

that's ridiculous

 why would it be the city's responsibility to increase bus or train coverage for special events?

do they even have the authority to do so?

is RTA saying they can not do it tjemselves - they need someone to tELL them to do it?



Hi all.

I ride RTA on a regular basis and many, MANY of the drivers have let it be known that the reported comments by Mr. Calabrese that he had said that 'any buses or trains that DO NOT have people standing up on them for EVERY trip, are unnecessary and should be subject having their schedules cut' are true.  Ask ANY driver and they will let you know that Mr. Calabrese was quite open in stating this and it is his intention to make sure that every trip IS jam-packed.

Before him, if there was an event in Cleveland, additional buses and trains were added.

I personally want to hear him address this.  As a disabled individual who needs to be able to sit down FACING THE FRONT, due to a spinal injury, I was irate to both read in the paper what he had said, and then have it acknowledged by driver after driver.  I've personally asked around 20 drivers and they all say the same thing.

Ok Mr. Calabrese ..... I think it's time you find another job!  After all, WE'RE your customers!!




RTA, special events, cash parking downtown

Every extra few passengers that the RTA takes downtown to a special event is one less cash parking fee for the downtown parking lots. 

Who do you think the RTA management answers to, anyway?

You the measly little rider?

Or the cash parking lobby which is one of the only going businesses in Cleveland.




nice take on that, jeff... i'd like to say dont be so cynical, but unfortunately you're probably right!

Question RTA Reality in Cleveland


Sadly, when it comes to money and private business interests in Cleveland, reality  is often 180 degrees from what is fair and reasonable.   In attempting to assess the reality in Cleveland I am of the belief that you must put your faith into little signals that you pick up – when you aren’t really looking.
Two years ago – I think it was on the day of Cleveland’s St Patrick’s Parade -  I was driving from downtown Cleveland out Shaker Blvd. to a meeting in Beachwood.    Every stop on the RTA Green Line was mobbed with potential passengers.   The RTA trains were all over-full and passed through the stops without being able to take on any passengers.
Roldo has explained here on Realneo that Forest City receives a million dollars annually for “renting” to the RTA the RTA’s rail station housed in the basement of Terminal Tower.   I find this curious, because without the RTA station in the basement of Terminal Tower, Forest City would not be able to rent any of the Tower City stores - stores which do all their business with RTA passengers.   Without the RTA basement station, every store in Terminal Tower would be vacant.
So why doesn’t Mr. Calabrese demand a new zero per annum lease for the RTA basement station?   Why doesn’t Mr. Calabrese move the station outside of the Terminal Tower?
Why is the RTA paying rent to Forest City?
Forest City is also the organization which bought and then flipped, with large unexplained profit, the polluted Juvenile Justice Center  site on Quincy to Cuyahoga County – yet Forest City still has the testicular fortitude to insist that the County consider its Cuyahoga River Cliffside property as the property to purchase (for 60 million) for the MEDCON.  
But back to the little signals which explain important aspects of reality in Cleveland: a few years ago Tower City “parental involvement” stickers appeared glued to the windows of every RTA rail car and bus.  On Tim Ferris’s blog (link now is dead – fortunately lmcshane copied it to Realneo here ) a discussion about the parental involvement stickers was responded to by J. Masek, the PR fellow from the RTA (Props to Mr. Masek for responding) as follows:
 JMasek said...
Jeff Buster asked about the Tower City stickers posted on RTA rail cars.
RTA GM Joe Calabrese approved the posting. He notes:
"These stickers about the parental involvement program are a public service. Many rail passengers (30,000 a day) are bound for Tower City, and we want them to know of the regulations they will face when they arrive."
Jeff, I hope this answers your questions. There is no contract to review, because no money changed hands. The GM has the authority to act in the best interests of RTA, and he used that authority here.   (bold added by JB)
The little signal I got from this exchange is that Mr. Calabrese and the Forest City folks were on collegial terms that allowed someone from Forest City to just telephone Mr. Calabrese and get Mr. Calabrese to instruct RTA car maintenance staff to have the stickers installed in every RTA vehicle – with no paper work or “contract” - for what amounts to private advertizing.    I wonder who paid for the printing of the stickers?
This “telephone call” no paperwork relationship is significant.
In contrast, if Realneo wanted to put “public announcement” stickers in every RTA vehicle – do you think Realneo would get anywhere with such a request?
Forest City also has parking lots which advertize for “event parking” for the basket ball and hard ball games, etc.   Now if Mr. Calabrese – as an effective public transportation manager – looked at the overall Cleveland events calendar and - on the days when there were parades or other popular events downtown, put on extra buses and rail cars - every parking lot in Downtown Cleveland would see a reduction in revenue.  
We know that someone at Forest City was comfortable enough to make a direct contact (not contract) arrangement with Mr. Calabrese to install Tower City stickers in every RTA vehicle.
Why is it unreasonable to believe that this same type of “comfortable” relationship doesn’t also influence Mr. Calabrese’s inclination to respond/or not respond to special events by adding transportation capacity?
It seems eminently reasonable and obvious to all of us that a municipal public transportation system would add capacity to accommodate the public seeking transportation to and from large downtown events – yet the fact that capacity is not added in Cleveland suggests that it is also eminently reasonable and obvious that the RTA  has been influenced to ignore their public mission.  
That’s the 180 degree reality in Cleveland.