Popular destinations in Cleveland continue to increase at an exciting rate. And RTA is always there to bring people closer to them. With annual ridership exceeding 49.2 million, and a service area that includes 59 municipalities in more than 457 square miles, RTA’s dedicated fleet of buses, trains, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) vehicles, Trolleys, and Paratransit vehicles are in constant motion. So, whether it’s a daily work-trip commute, a ride to class, or a night out, RTA makes your next Cleveland destination a safe, clean, on-time ride away.
Downtown Cleveland and University Circle are not only RTA’s service hubs, but they’re also the two largest areas for employment in Cleveland. Which is why work-trip rides continue to be the bulk of RTA’s ridership, making up 65% of annual trips. And as the area grows with new companies and attractions, parking spaces will continue to diminish. But by offering 8,000 free parking spaces at rapid stations and Park-N-Ride lots, a strong infrastructure and service system, and a commitment to growth, RTA continues to be the best option for commuters — saving them time, frustration and money.
Cleveland State University, Bryant & Stratton College, Cuyahoga Community College, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Institute of Art, and the Cleveland Institute of Music are all urban universities that call Downtown Cleveland and University Circle home. And like the City of Cleveland, these campuses are feeling the squeeze of parking pains, as tens of thousands of students search for the best way to class. That’s why RTA has partnered with all of these universities to provide students with a universal pass (U-Pass) that is included in their tuition at a discounted rate. With front-door service, students don’t have to worry about finding a spot or paying for parking and can even catch up on homework or sleep during the ride to class.
The Cleveland area is also home to great entertainment and a flourishing nightlife. With a world-renowned hub for arts and culture, a critically acclaimed culinary scene, and five professional sports teams, there are plenty of fun activities to explore. The Cleveland Museum of Art recently completed a $350 million renovation that continues to impress. People can ride the HealthLine to the museum’s monthly MIX in the breathtaking new atrium. For food lovers, the Cleveland culinary scene has welcomed national attention with James Beard Award winners, an Iron Chef, and a number of top-rated Zagat restaurants. From downtown’s East 4th Street to Tremont, people can take RTA’s rails, buses or Trolleys to explore the best flavors in Cleveland.
After Clevelanders have indulged themselves, taking in a Cavs game at Quicken Loans Arena or rallying the Indians to a win at Progressive Field can be an exciting next step. By parking for free at an RTA lot and riding the Rapid to the game, fans can avoid all of the pre- and post-game traffic and sky-high parking prices.
Cleveland’s destinations continue to grow and improve every day. And as more and more people explore this fantastic city, RTA will always be there to connect them.
With widespread traffic problems caused by on-going, every day road construction to the temporary closings of the Shoreway and Innerbelt Bridge, Cleveland commuters needed RTA more than ever in 2013. And as a result, RTA experienced its third consecutive year of increased ridership systemwide — delivering 49.2 million rides, an increase of 2% from the previous year. This growth can be attributed to the success of all RTA’s service options, ridership programs, and opportunistic advertising.
During its fifth year in service, the HealthLine boasted a 4.9% increase in ridership. Since the HealthLine opened its doors in 2008, it has carried more than 22 million customers, with annual ridership now at 5 million — a 60% increase since launching.
But the HealthLine was not alone in posting ridership milestones in 2013. The Red Line contributed to the overall system increase by finishing with its highest ridership total in more than 25 years — serving 6.4 million riders, a 3% annual increase.
Thanks to the public and private partnership of Cleveland organizations, the first full year of the extended free Trolley service launched in 2012 met with great success. Total ridership was more than 1.4 million. This includes last December’s staggering 101% increase over December 2012. And while all five Trolley lines experienced significant double-digit growth in this time period, ridership for the NineTwelve Trolley — which primarily serves downtown professionals — increased more than 200%. RTA’s programs prove to be a main driver in ridership growth. The U-Pass program provides discounted, universal RTA passes to students of six participating universities, and is included in tuition. It’s an ideal solution for urban universities that are experiencing growing pains and issues with parking capacity. Partnering with RTA to offer the U-Pass allows CSU to provide students with easy, safe, sustainable, and economically efficient transportation to class. And thanks to the success at CSU and other participating schools, Cuyahoga Community College has also decided to join the program on a trial basis starting in 2014.
In its third year, RTA’s Ready to Ride program encouraged ridership by giving trial rides to employees of partnering Cleveland companies. Since launching the program in 2011, RTA has partnered with more than 25 Cleveland organizations, including University Hospitals, Ernst & Young, and Sherwin-Williams — resulting in one-out-of three participants permanently choosing “the ride” over “the drive.”
This past summer, RTA used opportunistic advertising to literally become a local hero. The filming of a super hero movie downtown caused overwhelming traffic issues in Cleveland. And with frustrated commuters crying out for solutions, Captain RTA was sent in to distribute free RTA passes — and save the city from evil gridlock.
As Cleveland continues to grow, so will traffic problems for commuters. That’s why RTA is committed to serving the community by providing the best solution for students, employees, and anyone who’s ready to ride.
Every great transit system has a great infrastructure. And in 2013, RTA once again reinforced its world-class system to support its ridership and service growth. By completing major enhancement projects, meeting new funding goals, and breaking new ground, RTA is officially on a roll.
In 2013, the Red Line provided more than 6.4 million passenger trips, making it the quickest route to iconic Cleveland destinations, like the West Side Market. It’s also the best option for daily travel and the community’s link to the airport. As RTA’s most traveled and populated route, the Red Line requires constant enhancements. Which is why last June, RTA completed two projects over the course of seven months: the $7 million infrastructure restoration and improvement of the S-curve, and the $10 million reconstruction of the Airport Tunnel to ensure customer safety and system longevity.
After reaching funding goals, RTA broke ground on a $17.5 million Little Italy-University Circle Red Line Station in October. The station will replace the East 120th and Euclid Avenue Station and will serve as the new gateway to the Little Italy and University Circle neighborhoods.
In addition to infrastructure improvements, RTA’s Red Line vehicles are getting a $25.1 million makeover. This two-year process, which began last fall, will result in 40 refurbished Red Line cars. These improvements include new windows, LED lighting, upgraded seating, new flooring, and additional ADA space — extending the life of the Red Line rail fleet by 15 years.
2014 promises to be another exciting year for RTA and its customers. In the summer, construction on the new $18.5 million Cedar-University Rapid Station will finish following a two-year enhancement project. The station will feature a fresh, modern design that will improve traffic flow and on-time bus performance.
Also in the fall, RTA will complete the $20 million Clifton Boulevard Transportation Enhancement Project, which will pave the way for the new West Shore Express service. The improvements will include an extended and repaved roadway to accommodate new rush hour bus-only lanes; the addition of new enclosed bus stations; new signage for easier customer identification; newly constructed medians lined with trees and professional landscaping; and additional streetscape enhancements, including masonry planters and pedestrian street lighting.
RTA continues to be fully committed to the growth and improvement of Greater Cleveland’s transit system. And for riders seeking relief from high gas prices, parking, and road construction, the best solution is always available — and always getting better.
From the service expansion of the Waterfront Line to the growth of Trolleys, RTA experienced yet another sizable service growth in 2013. And RTA continues to meet commuters’ needs with plans of continued expansion in 2014 — all without increasing fares.
With the opening of the $145 million Ernst & Young building last summer, RTA expanded the Waterfront Line rail service to their front door seven days a week. This service increase has accommodated the needs of thousands of EY employees, as well as visitors to the adjacent hotel and restaurants — making RTA the best option for daily commuters and out-of-towners.
2013 also marked the first full year of expanded Trolley service. Since launching the free, five-line, seven-days-a-week service in October 2012, the Trolleys have delivered more than 1.7 million passenger trips. And they continue to connect people to downtown hot spots for the cost of a smile.
In addition to daily service growth, RTA showed great flexibility in catering to the needs of special events in the community. By working with the organizers of the annual Cleveland International Film Festival to promote the use of transit — and by extending weekend rail service — RTA provided rides to one-third of the festival’s attendees. And when the National Senior Games came to town last summer, RTA was there to offer rides to tens of thousands of athletes and spectators — which proved to be the best way to reach the events and explore Cleveland’s top tourist destinations.
RTA also launched a brand new website in 2013, which gave customers a more user-friendly platform for accessing information and schedules from their desktop, tablet, or mobile device. Since launching, the site has experienced a surge in attention — garnering 1.1 million unique visitors, resulting in 4.4 million visits, and a total of 19.7 million page views.
RTA’s service growth over the past year helped contribute to an increase of 1 million more rides, which marks the third consecutive year of ridership growth. And as a result, RTA is planning further expansion in 2014.
So far this year, RTA has begun the process of consolidating bus stops and implementing a new, modern signage system that displays more information for customers. Also, by consolidating bus stops, riders will notice the improvement in travel time and overall punctuality of RTA buses.
This fall, RTA will launch its West Shore Express service. This $20 million enhancement project will beautify Clifton Boulevard and provide customers with express rush-hour service on brand new 60-foot articulated buses with increased rider capacity.
As ridership continues to grow, so will the demand for RTA’s service. And with a healthy infrastructure, booming service options, and a clear vision for the future, RTA is more than prepared.
In 2013, RTA continued to take big steps to minimize our community’s carbon footprint by increasing its transit services — which reduced the number of cars on the road every day. Integrating sustainable business practices at every level of operation also created a healthier and greener environment for Cleveland. And through systemwide upgrades, community partnerships, and more, RTA continues to be a breath of fresh air for Greater Cleveland.
As the largest transit authority in Ohio, RTA serves 457 square miles, home to more than 1.2 million people. With an area of operation this large, RTA officials are fully responsible for their lasting effect in the community. That’s why the RTA Board approved the purchase of 160 new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses over the next four years. These new, energy-efficient buses — which will be phased into service starting in March 2015 — will replace any buses that are 12 years or older or have reached more than 500,000 logged miles. The CNG buses will emit 30% less greenhouse gases and 85% less nitrous oxide pollution than the current diesel buses.
In addition to cleaner air, this decision will also benefit RTA’s sustainable resource management. Currently, diesel gas ($3.05 per gallon) gets only two miles per gallon — while a gallon of natural gas ($1.29) lasts five to six miles.
RTA’s partnerships also help support sustainability in the community. Dante, Chef Dante Boccuzzi’s award-winning restaurant in Tremont — and a partner of RTA, practices sustainable sourcing. So, customers who want to minimize their carbon footprint while enjoying a night out know exactly where to go — and how to get there.
In 2013, the Cleveland Foundation provided a grant to fund the RTA-University Hospitals partnership to educate UH employees on the topic of sustainability. Not only did RTA provide UH employees with free trial RTA passes, but it also distributed materials on practicing sustainability and the most environmentally friendly modes of transportation.
RTA has outlined two main projects for implementation in 2014. Its top priority is to assess its carbon footprint in the community. By doing so, RTA can work on reducing general congestion through services and overall fuel consumption, as well as incorporating a mix of alternative fuels into daily use.
To support its 2014 Sustainability Strategy, RTA is also seeking ISO 14001 Certification for the Central Bus Maintenance Facility. This certification will provide a guide to quality leadership and management practices regarding sustainability issues. Moving forward, this standard will be applied to all major RTA facilities.
RTA is proud to be a driving force in Cleveland’s sustainability movement. And RTA will ensure that the decisions it makes today, are also the best for tomorrow.
RTA is more than just a transit authority. It’s an employee’s train to work. A student’s bus to school. An out-of-towner’s Trolley to the game. As the critical link to exploring Cleveland, RTA not only connected the city in 2013 — but connected with it as well.
As a Cleveland mainstay, RTA understands the impact sports have on the community. This is why RTA sponsored every professional Cleveland team in 2013. Currently, Cavaliers’ fans can purchase special All-You-Can-Eat Seats in Loudville that include free food, drinks, and an RTA fare card. And all RTA riders can enjoy special $5 tickets to Lake Erie Monsters games — featuring the RTA Zamboni.
Earlier this year, not only was RTA the “driving” force behind the Indians’ playoff run, but it was also the proud sponsor of Rally Alley — which united Tribe fans with a “block party” prior to every Friday and Saturday home game. These popular events featured plenty of games and prizes for any fan who took RTA to see the Tribe.
And when the Browns took the field in the fall, RTA played host to a huge tailgate party in the Muni Lot before every home game. With the help of Mark “Munch” Bishop from ESPN Cleveland, RTA provided free food, games, and prizes to fans who were ready to ride.
RTA also engaged Clevelanders with community-wide events that encouraged ridership — and of course, hometown pride. Last June, RTA held the 2nd Annual Search the City Scavenger Hunt, a fun, interactive way for people to explore the city via RTA. 40 teams, with a total of 200 participants (an increase of 150%), spent the day riding from Ohio City to University Circle, competing for great prizes and even greater bragging rights.
On July 4th, RTA hosted its Annual Fourth of July Family Fest at Settlers Landing. Thousands of people showed up to enjoy food, music, and giveaways — not to mention, the Euclid Beach theme and a spectacular view of the fireworks.
In addition to partnerships and special events, RTA gave back to the community in other ways. In 2013, RTA’s 2,227 employees gave more than $149,595 to charities, making an enormous positive impact on our community. The charities included United Way, United Negro College Fund, Community Shares, and EarthShare.
As 2014 rolls along, RTA will remain active in the community through partnerships, special events and charities. Because as much as RTA enjoys connecting people to their destinations — it’s connecting with the people that truly drives them.
Year-End Financial Report
RTA has managed very well over the past three years and has achieved a stable and sustainable financial position. Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 concluded with a very strong year-end balance in excess of $30 million. The third straight year this has been achieved has resulted in a AAA rating by Standard & Poor’s. And in light of RTA’s strengthened fiscal position, a heightened emphasis has been placed on customer service, employee growth, and education, with plans to maintain, repair, and expand infrastructure.
Total Resources ended the year $6.3 million above budget at $302.3 million, marking a third consecutive year of growth and RTA’s first $300 million total resource year in company history. This gain was led by Sales & Use Tax revenue. Sales Tax receipts represent RTA’s primary funding source, covering between 70-80% of the operating revenue budget. Although an economic slowdown was predicted last year, revenue from Cuyahoga County Sales Tax collections finished the year above budget estimates again, further pointing to the steady growth of the local economy. As a direct result, Sales & Use Tax revenue in 2013 was $189.6 million, up by 4.6% versus 2012.
Passenger Fare collections, the second largest source of operating revenue, has increased annually from 2010 to 2012. With volatile gas prices, growth in Cleveland jobs, and RTA service expansion, more people are choosing to ride RTA by evidence of a third consecutive year of ridership growth.
With increased and new service in 2013, RTA experienced a rise in year-to-year operating expenditures to $231 million, but through strategic fiscal management, operating expenses were once again less than they were six years ago (2007: $233.6 million). A primary root to this success stems from RTA’s Energy Price Risk Management Program, which was implemented in 2010 to focus on fuel hedging and electricity consumption. To date, current four-year savings total $16 million related to fuel costs and $10.7 million in savings relative to curbed electricity consumption.
Recent years of Capital Fund growth has put RTA in a great position to complete projects and continue planned expansion. In 2013, the fund surplus contributed to the completed reconstruction of the Red Line Airport Tunnel and the rehabilitation of the Red Line S-Curve. While also funding the current Cedar-University Red Line Station and Clifton Boulevard Enhancement projects, which will see completion in fall 2014.
The Bus Improvement Program was implemented in 2013, marking year one of a five-year bus and Paratransit replacement program. During the first year, RTA laid the foundation for significant upgrades of the authority’s bus revenue fleet in the upcoming years. This includes $15.44 million for the purchase of 23 sixty-foot articulated buses to be delivered in the first half of 2014, and used for the new West Shore Express service; $250,000 for replacement of bike racks for RTA’s bus fleet; and $1.76 million for 20 propane fueled Paratransit buses. Also, in the first quarter of 2014, RTA plans to finalize the order of 60 forty-foot Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses, with the intention of purchasing an additional 100 CNG buses over the next four years.
Financial Indicators are another measure of RTA’s financial strength. There are a total of six indicators, with an established Board Policy Goal.
The Cost per Hour of Service was budgeted at $131.9 million for 2013 and should be maintained at or below the level of inflation. With increased service hours and frequency due to special events like the National Senior Games, the Cost per Hour of Service increased by 4.6% versus 2012, but still ended the year 2.2% below budget at $129.1 million. And although RTA’s 4.6% year-over-year increase was higher than the rate of inflation (between 2.3% and 2.48% for the next ten years), the Cost per Hour of Service is less than the 2011 cost, and the total rate of growth over the last two years is -3%.
The Operating Reserve target of greater than one month was met for the fourth consecutive year. At 2013 year-end, the Operating Reserve was at 1.8 months, nearly doubling the Board Policy Goal.
The Debt Service Coverage indicator, measuring capital efficiency, also achieved a fourth consecutive year of meeting Board Policy Goal. The 2013 year-end ratio of 2.53 was well above the 1.5 minimum and was higher than the budgeted level of 1.71—a result of a decrease in Operating Budget expenditures, relative to budget, that in turn increased total operating resources available for debt service coverage.
Capital Maintenance to Expansion Outlay met Board Policy Goal for the first time since 2007. The goal outlines a 75-90% balance between maintenance of existing assets and expansion efforts. In 2013, the 84.1% still shows a strong commitment by RTA to maintain existing assets versus new expansion, but the Clifton Boulevard Enhancement Project helped balance the outlay within target goal.
The Sales Tax Contribution to Capital indicator has been above Board Policy Goal since 2005, as the transit authority continues to invest more of its own funds in capital projects relative to its available resources. In 2013, this trend continued with the Sales Tax Contribution to Capital ending the year at 18.8%, below the budgeted level of 21.4%, but above the maximum Board Policy Goal of 15%.
Operating Ratio fell short of the Board Policy Goal. Comparing operating expenses to operating revenues, the policy target is greater than 25%. In 2013, the year-end ratio was 22%, below the Board Policy Goal and below the 2013 budget of 22.3%.
In summary, four of the six financial indicators met the Board Policy Goal, further supporting the financial success experienced in 2013.
Yielding another year of financial growth, RTA’s fiscal discipline and strategic vision continues to produce a strengthened financial position, creating a stable and sustainable future for the authority, its customers, and the community.
|2012 Actual||2013 Actual||$ Change||% Change||% of Total|
|Total Operating Revenue||50,814,795||50,299,959||(514,836)||-1.0%||19.1%|
|Total Non-Operating Revenue||206,112,344||213,792,407||7,680,063||3.7%||80.9%|
|Total Operating Expenditures||222,944,094||230,980,409||8,036,315||3.6%||86.2%|
|Miscellaneous Finance Costs||0||0||0||0.0%||0.0%|
|Transfer to Insurance Fund||1,000,000||1,400,000||400,000||40.0%||0.5%|
|Transfer to Pension Fund||100,000||100,000||0||0.0%||0.0%|
|Transfer to Bond Retirement Fund||19,386,892||18,324,392||(1,062,500)||-5.5%||6.8%|
|Transfer to Capital Improvement Funds||11,636,995||17,270,044||5,633,049||48.4%||6.4%|
|Total Non-Operating Expenditures||32,123,887||37,094,436||4,970,549||15.5%||13.8%|
|Balance Jan. 1||36,375,982||38,235,140|
|Balance Dec. 31||38,235,140||34,252,661|
Operating Budget: $278.7 million
Ridership: 49.2 million
Service Area: 457 square miles
- 59 municipalities, including: 38 cities, 19 villages, 2 townships
- 1.26 million people in 2012 estimate
Rail Service: 3.2 million revenue miles
Red Line: More than 6 million annual riders
- 1 route
- 60 heavy-rail cars
- 18 high-platform stations
- 19 route miles of track
Blue/Green Line: More than 2.5 million annual riders
- 3 routes
- 48 light-rail cars
- 34 low-platform stations
- 15.3 route miles of track
BRT: 5 million riders annually
- 1 route on Euclid Avenue and Public Sqaure
- 9.4 miles of bus-only lanes
- 23 rapid transit vehicles (RTVs)
- 59 stations and 3 platform stops
Trolleys: 1.5 million riders annually
- 5 routes
- 17 vehicles
Bus: More than 39 million annual riders
- 415 buses
- 1,000 shelters
- 6,000 bus stops
- 69 routes
- 14.4 million revenue miles
Paratransit: 704,504 passenger trips
- 80 RTA vehicles
- 67 contracted vehicles
RTA Owned Bridges: 85 bridges, 1 tunnel at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
Parking Lots: 8,800 free spaces
Commuter Advantage: 13,386 commuters from 694 employers
- $9,531 estimated savings per commuter
- $13.65 million annualized revenue
e-newsletter: 7,204 subscribers
Commuter Alerts: 3,059 subscribers
YouTube: 24 videos attracted 5000+ views
Online store: $296,998 fare media at shopRTA.com
Twitter: 3,992 followers
Facebook: 14,000+ fans
LinkedIn: RTA maintains a company profile geared to the business-to-business audience
NextConnect: Nearly 58,000 visitors
- About 153,000 visits
- 1.3 million pages viewed
- 1,817 subscribers
Website: 4.4 million visitors on more than 19.6 million pages
AnswerLine: 532,500 calls answered