Greater Cleveland shone in the national spotlight in 2016, and RTA was in the driver’s seat for every big moment. The Cleveland Cavaliers championship parade marked the largest ridership day in RTA history. Public transportation received critical acclaim for seamlessly aiding the travel of over 50,000 delegates and guests for the Republican National Convention. And Tribe fans had more reasons to cheer after avoiding $100 World Series parking with a $5 round-trip. But it’s really the little, everyday moments that have made, and will continue to make, the big moments possible and ultimately successful...
As we celebrate another great year at RTA, we also realize that past success does not guarantee future returns. That’s why every decision is made with rigorous evaluation, precise execution, and a hope for a better tomorrow. Through continued disciplined fiscal management, the Authority ended the year $16 million better than budget, resulting in a more sustainable future. A future that includes a stable outlook for RTA’s valued customers after the Board of Trustees approved an operating budget of $300 million for 2017.
New and refurbished physical assets are key to the success of any transit authority. In 2016, RTA continued its commitment to a State of Good Repair with major capital investments. On the 10-year anniversary of the Downtown Trolley program, 12 new, larger vehicles replaced the original fleet to meet growing demand and increased passenger volume—meaning more free rides with a smile. New Compressed Natural Gas buses continue to roll in, with more slated for arrival in 2017, to help reduce both Cleveland’s carbon footprint and RTA’s diesel fuel consumption. And 20 new Paratransit vehicles were introduced in 2016, providing a more comfortable ride, more economical operation, and ultimately, a better customer experience. Facility upgrades capped off 2016 with the opening of the modernized, ADA-compliant Warrensville Station along the Green Line, and the replacement of all four escalators as well as the completion of Phase 1 of the Track Replacement Program at RTA’s Tower City Station.
A strong internal system is also critical to any successful organization. And RTA continues to be a leader in workforce diversity and management training—receiving multiple awards for workplace inclusion and graduating 30 employees from the Public Transit Management Academy at Cleveland State University. In addition, the Authority provides promotability training to current employees, which complements the succession planning for the next generation of leaders. RTA is making the necessary investments in its people for a bright future.
As always, RTA’s mission remains to provide safe, reliable, clean, and courteous public transportation. With the help of both strong physical and employee assets, RTA is committed to delivering excellent customer service. The Authority conducts regular customer service surveys to ensure the customer voice is heard, while new technology is continually being developed and tested to enhance every rider’s experience. In 2016, RTA launched a mobile app with major potential for the future—giving customers access to buying fare, planning trips, and real-time service information, all from the convenience of their phones.
And now we come to 2017, with both vast potential and emerging challenges on the horizon. As for potential: more new vehicles are slated to hit the streets, new Brookpark and Lee Road Rapid Stations are scheduled to open, and more enhancements to customer service are planned. But the challenge of changes to the Sales & Use Tax due to Federal requirements starting on July 1, 2017 looms large. And unless the State of Ohio acts to correct the problem, RTA stands to lose approximately $18 - $20 million of revenue annually. It’s important to note that eight other states affected by this problem have already successfully addressed the issue to avoid significant loses. We are confident the State will find a remedy and avoid a tremendous loss for not just RTA, but all 88 Ohio counties that stand to lose $200 million annually.
We invite you to watch the videos below to see what people are saying about RTA’s critical role in the growth and sustainable future success of Greater Cleveland. And learn how you can help make a difference in 2017 and beyond. Lastly, a continued big thanks to RTA’s Board of Trustees, staff, political and business community, and most of all, our valued customers for their support. RTA is confident that by working together, we can conquer the road ahead.
George F. Dixon, III
President, RTA Board of Trustees
Joseph A. Calabrese