Monday, April 27, 2009
RTA considers elminating 7-day-a-week service
Facing a $9 million shortfall, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is considering big cuts to service, including the potential elimination of Saturday or Sunday routes.
RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese mentioned the possibility at an RTA board meeting last week. He said cutting Saturday service would save $12 million a year and scrapping Sunday service would save $10 million a year. Calabrese, in the same meeting, didn't exactly endorse the idea: "That service is crucial to a lot of riders and eliminating it would be catastrophic," he said.
For Clevelanders who can't afford cars, that could mean not being able to work weekend shifts, attend religious services, or run errands on a day off.
RTA spokesman Jerry Masek says cutting a full day of service is an option, but the staff will look to the board of trustees for direction.
"It was mentioned in passing. There has been no discussion. A lot of other communities have done it, but I'm not sure it's something that could be done in Cleveland."
The board will meet with staff in May to discuss options.
RTA is required to balance its budget each year. Making a cost-saving move earlier in the year can prevent greater cuts if the decision is put off, because the savings will be realized for a longer period of time, Masek says.
When RTA faced a serious deficit last year, Gov. Ted Strickland helped steer enough money to eliminate major service cuts. At the time, former Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell, then an RTA board member, said if service cuts were necessary in 2009, RTA's customers should understand that "it's going to be the state imposing the cuts."
Masek says assistance from the state could still come through, but RTA has to move forward as if it isn't.
"We are talking to state officials every day about a lot of things. We're still talking to them to see if there are any other solutions to the issues," he says. "We have to be pro-active and look at our budget issue. We can't sit back and wait for someone else to help us."