CLEVELAND, OH -- RTA is helping close the gap to remote learning by providing free access to WiFi to students at select locations in Cuyahoga County.
In conjunction with the start of the new school year, RTA has launched its “Homework Hotspots” program and is welcoming students to the following locations to access RTA’s WiFi capability:
Louis Stokes-Windermere, Cedar-University, Southgate, Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Tower City. Westside locations include Broookpark, Puritas-West 150th St. and West 65th - Lorain St. stations, with Paratransit coming soon.
Students will auto-connect to “RTA WiFi,” once they board an RTA vehicle or enter an accessible facility.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed digital exclusion for many students of diverse backgrounds in Greater Cleveland,” said RTA CEO and General Manager, India Birdsong.
“The digital divide greatly impacts the quality of education students receive. We recognize that access equals freedom. RTA seeks to help close the gap in remote learning and provide real solutions for families without broadband services,” Birdsong said.
WiFi on all vehicles and in these stations is accessible 24 hours a day. Inappropriate content is blocked, as is access to Netflix and Hulu, she said.
According to the 2019 U.S Census American Community Survey (ACS), Cleveland had the highest percentage of households without broadband Internet accounts of any U.S. city with 100,000 or more households. Almost 53,000 Cleveland households — 31% of the city’s total — lacked broadband subscriptions of any kind at any speed last year, including mobile data plans.
The new ACS data also shows that nearly 79,000 Cleveland households lacked “wireline” broadband connections in 2019 — i.e. cable modem, DSL, or fiber Internet service. Cleveland’s 46% wireline non-connection rate was second only to Detroit among the nation’s big cities.
In 2019, RTA installed state-of-the-art WiFi technology on all buses and trains. The Hayden district has 180 buses, Triskett has 170, and 24 trains are equipped with WiFi. Train routers reach each end of the vehicles.
“RTA wants to be a catalyst for the economic and social recovery of our community,” Birdsong said. “Homework Hotspots takes RTA and our community to the next level. RTA’s mission is to provide safe, reliable, clean and courteous public transportation, but now we’re also providing equitable access to one of the most popular customer amenities: free WiFi. We are pleased to offer this service and to do our part to assist families in bridging the digital divide.”
Linda Scardilli Krecic