A Red Line train leaves the Tower City Station

Go slow, Work zone ahead

You see these signs pop up every summer on highways. Summer is the season for construction on railroads, too.

RTA is investing heavily in rail. 50 percent of RTA’s capital budget is spent on rail, while 20 percent of RTA customers use rail. While some projects are exciting, such as new rail stations at Brookpark and Little Italy-University Circle, some are just necessary, such as replacing 6,000 railroad ties every year to keep the track system in a state of good repair.

Because of the number of rail construction projects underway, RTA has reduced the speed limit in work zones for the safety of customers and workers. As you know, a number of serious rail accidents have occurred recently around the country. Because of these accidents, RTA and other rail systems have enhanced their safety procedures.

RTA’s number 1 concern is to keep you safe, so “slow orders” will be remain in place until needed track improvements are completed. Speeds have been reduced from an average of 45 mph to 30 mph.

RTA estimates that the slow orders are extending the trip from Brookpark to Tower City by 5-10 minutes. This is still less time than it takes to drive and park. Please plan your trip accordingly and allow extra travel time during the construction season. Your fellow commuters who drive have had to add time to their normal commute, as well, because of numerous major roadway and bridge projects underway.

To help you make your connections and reach your destination on time, all eastbound Red Line trips will leave West Side stations 3 minutes earlier than the times on the timetable dated May 24. New timetables, dated June 22, are available online. Printed copies will be available as soon as possible.

60 CNG buses join RTA fleet

RTA is adding 60 new compressed natural gas (CNG) buses to its big-bus fleet this summer, with 46 more expected in 2016. They will replace the NABI clean diesel buses that have reached the extent of their useful life.

“Natural gas costs 1/3 that of diesel. This will result in savings of more than $200,000 over the life of each bus,” said RTA CEO and General Manager Joe Calabrese.

Each CNG bus reduces annual emissions by 100 tons of CO2 equivalent, so RTA’s fleet of CNG buses will emit 30 percent fewer greenhouse gases by 2017, he said. Diesel costs $2.88 per gallon. CNG diesel-gas-equivalent costs $1 per gallon.

“When we pair long-term cost savings and long-term energy savings with an improvement in RTA’s overall carbon footprint, everyone wins,” Calabrese said. RTA is joining with partners such as Parker Hannifin, which supplies the refueling dispensers, in strategic sustainability initiatives, Calabrese said.

“Together, we can create a healthier and more livable environment for our employees and customers,” Calabrese said. “We’re taking steps to reduce pollution and improve our environmental footprint in the region. Every day, RTA removes 50,000 cars from roadways in Northeast Ohio, reducing congestion, enhancing safety, and improving air quality.”

The CNG buses feature new, comfortable seats. Video cameras on the bus are tied to video monitors. Riders can see themselves  – a point that drives home RTA’s emphasis on safety.

The buses are housed at the Hayden Garage, which has been equipped with a CNG fueling system. A CNG system will be added to the Triskett Garage, and buses purchased next year will be assigned there.

In the early 1990s, RTA experimented with CNG to fuel downtown loop buses, but the high costs of maintaining CNG coaches proved prohibitive. Now, thanks to technological advances, CNG buses actually cost less to operate over the long term.

Stay healthy, ride RTA to your local farmers market

Clevelanders are fortunate to have many farmers markets to choose from. RTA buses and trains provide service to many of them. Here are three where the RTA access is especially convenient. All are operated by the North Union Farmers Market.

Cleveland Clinic

  • 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Wednesdays, through Oct. 14
  • Near the Crile Building, 2049 East 100th St.
  • Ride the HealthLine to Euclid Avenue at East 100th Street

PlayhouseSquare

  • 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursdays, through Sept. 17
  • U.S. Bank Plaza, Euclid Avenue at East 14th Street
  • Ride the HealthLine or the E-Line trolley

Shaker Square

  • 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, through Dec. 19
  • Ride the Blue Line or Green Line to the Shaker Square Station.

Construction begins at Brookpark Rapid Station

Rapid riders should be aware of major changes at the popular Brookpark Station.

Crews have re-striped and reconfigured parking in the small west side parking lot. It is the new bus loop area, and ADA customers can continue to park there.

The large east side parking lot is being used for customer parking, and staging construction equipment.

On July 20, the tunnel connecting the east parking lot to the wooden walkway will be demolished. After that occurs, customers will use a new sidewalk being built along Brookpark Road to reach the west side entrance. A four-foot high barrier wall will be installed to protect customers from vehicular traffic and road splash.

New signage has been installed. RTA staff will be there to help in the transition.

The new $10.4 million facility is expected to open in mid-2016. RTA’s goal is to keep the station open during construction.

Customers can also use nearby Rapid stations. Lots at Puritas and Triskett have excess parking capacity.

Rail shutdowns help ensure safety

Safety is always RTA’s Number One priority. Ensuring safety for rail service means that service has to shut down for a few days, so new rail ties can be installed, and other work completed. RTA staff continues to prepare for these future rail shutdowns.

  • July 11-12, Track work, buses replace Red Line trains west of Tower City.
  • Buses replace East Side Blue/Green Line trains on 6 weekends for bridge work on East 81st and East 83rd streets. July 18-19, 25-26. Aug. 1-2, 8-9, 22-23, 29-30.

RTA looking for bus operator candidates

        RTA employs more some 800 bus operators. A number of them retire every month, so recruiting bus operator candidates is a constant challenge.

If you are interested in a public service career with great benefits, here are some events for you to consider.

  • July 9: 2-6 p.m., Mobile open house, Louis Stokes Station at Windermere, 14232 Euclid Ave., East Cleveland.
  • July 11, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Major open house, RTA’s Main Office, 1240 West Sixth St., Cleveland.
  • July 21, 2-6 p.m., Mobile open house, El Barrio/The Centers @ Gordon Square, 5209 Detroit Ave., Cleveland.

July 31: Bike to Work

If you ride to work with your bike on Friday, July 31, you can board an RTA bus or train for free. It’s RTA’s way of saluting you on Bike to Work Day. Each year, more than 50,000 persons use RTA’s Rack-n-Roll program.
 

July 19: Ride RTA to a Taste of Tremont

          More than 50 vendors and 30,000 persons are expected to attend the annual Taste of Tremont neighborhood festival from noon-8 p.m. on Sunday, July 19. Admission to the festival is free. RTA’s West 25th Street Red Line Rapid Station is a short walk from the festival site. The 81 bus route also serves the festival area.

Safety department increases awareness of grade crossings

 Grade crossing accidents on light-rail tracks have diminished greatly in recent years. However, even one accident is one too many.

 With that in mind, RTA applied for, and received, a $15,000 grant from the national group Operation Lifesaver, which works to make people more aware of the dangers of grade crossings.

 RTA, working with the City of Shaker Heights, is distributing literature about the campaign, “See Tracks, Think Train!”

 “With people more active in the summer, now is a great time to stress safety awareness,” said Cynthia Boyd, a Safety staffer who coordinates the campaign. “The train you don’t see is more dangerous than the train you do see.”

 She said RTA had the community bus and a display at the recent Shaker Heights Arts & Music Festival. RTA plans to participate at other area events, such as the Farmers Markets and the Garlic Festival, both at Shaker Square.

Literature will also be posted on light-rail trains. It includes 3 key areas – safe driving at grade crossing, safe walking at grade crossing, and safety while riding rail cars.

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