Jan. 18 is Martin Luther King Day

Jan. 18: Ride RTA on MLK Holiday to reach many free attractions

Monday, Jan. 16, is a federal holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  RTA offices are closed, but bus and rail service will operate on a regular weekday schedule. Many local museums will offer free admission or discounts. Most schools are closed, so students have many choices.

If you plan to visit more than one museum, you may want to buy an All-Day Pass, which offers unlimited ridership until 3 a.m. the next day.

Lakefront attractions

Admission is free at two lakefront attractions. The Great Lakes Science Center, which includes the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with regular admission charged for the adjacent Cleveland Clinic Dome Theater.

Staff at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will see their busiest day of the year, with hours of 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

New this year

The free IceFest at North Coast Harbor will be held from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. in an open area between the Rock Hall and the Science Center. See outdoor ice displays, an appearance by the Snow Sisters, and ice carving demonstrations. The event is sponsored by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance and North Coast Harbor. Dress warm.

To reach these attractions

University Circle

Most museums in University Circle are close to a stop on the HealthLine, which operates 24/7. To find details of a specific museum, go to its Web site. Most museums are open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Jan. 6-15: Disney Magic returns to Quicken Loans Arena

Disney magic returns to Quicken Loans Arena this month. Order your tickets on-line, use the code “RTA”, and obtain an $8 discount per ticket.

 Disney on Ice presents Follow Your Heart, a deep-sea adventure featuring Dory. It’s quality family entertainment. Show times are:

  • Friday, Jan. 6: 7 p.m.
  • Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 7-8: 11 a.m. & 3 p.m.
  • Thursday-Friday, Jan. 12-13: 7 p.m.
  • Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 14-15: 11 a.m. & 3 p.m.

To reach Disney on Ice, or any event at Quicken Loans Arena, just park for free at any Rapid Station, buy a $5.50 All-Day Pass, ride the Rapid in warmth to the Tower City Station, and stroll down the 1,000-foot Walkway to reach your seat. You never have to go outside.

Jan. 28: Tribe Fest draws many fans to Clinic hotel, ride the HealthLine

Just three months after the World Series, another baseball season is getting ready to roll.

On Jan. 28, the fifth annual Tribe Fest will be presented by KeyBank. It will be held in two shifts, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., and 2-7 p.m., at the Cleveland Clinic’s InterContinental Hotel, 9801 Carnegie Ave.

Ride the HealthLine to the station at East 93rd Street, and walk to the hotel.

Tickets can be purchased on-line for either shift, and for an autograph session. The event includes family fun, Slider, and hot dogs.

The Indians’ home opener is April 11 with the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field.

And, while you have your future sluggers out for the day, continue riding east on the HealthLine, and explore museums in University Circle. Most are open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Board approves 2017 operating budget at current service levels

On Dec. 20, the RTA Board of Trustees approved a 2017 operating budget that

  • Continues current service levels.
  • Includes the roll-out of RTA’s new VanShare program.
  • Includes a pilot service connecting Edgewater Park to the region by way of RTA’s Cleveland State Line. Effective with the March 12 service change, all Saturday trips by the Cleveland State Line will stop within walking distance of Edgewater Park. Details will be announced.
  • Through attrition, reduces by 30 the number of budgeted positions, from 2,362 to 2,332.

A major unresolved issue will make 2017 “extremely challenging,” said RTA CEO Joe Calabrese. It is not yet known how the State of Ohio will address the removal of Medicaid managed health-care providers from the Sales & Use Tax base to meet new Federal guidelines.

This issue will have a much broader negative impact than just RTA. It will significantly impact revenues to the State of Ohio, each of the 88 counties in the State and many transit systems that receive a portion of their funding from either a portion of the sales tax or directly from County allocated funds.

If no action is taken, the change will occur on July 1, 2017 and reduce RTA’s revenues by an estimated $4.5 million in sales tax revenue in 2017, and $18 million-$20 million annually in 2018 and beyond.

The budget includes total expenditures of $302.9 million and estimated revenues of $289.5 million, with the $13.4 million gap made up with funds carried over from 2016. Through aggressive budget execution, it is projected that 2016 will end approximately $15 million to the good of budget.

Personnel costs are expected to rise $7.9 million. The increase comes from a projected 2.4 percent increase in fringe benefits, and a 2.75 percent wage increase for ATU and FOP employees based on current contractual obligations. No salary increases are included for salaried non-bargaining positions or for union employees beyond the current contracts.

“In 2017, RTA will continue to strive to increase its productivity and efficiency,” said Calabrese. “Implementation of a predicative maintenance program has made dramatic improvements in the reliability of our bus fleet.”

“TransitStat, our data-driven performance management initiative, will continue its focus on improving RTA’s processes and reducing costs.”

“Effective budget execution, solid management, a commitment from our employees, and a desire to seek out and implement process improvements has allowed the RTA to maintain its financial position in recent years. We expect that success to continue in 2017,” Calabrese said.

RTA to upgrade facilities & equipment in 2017

RTA’s capital budget of $64 million this year focuses on facility upgrades and maintaining a State of Good Repair in vehicles, equipment and facilities. Here are some major projects that RTA is planning.

$12.9 million to purchase 27 new Gillig CNG buses. Delivery is scheduled to begin in late 2017 and continue into 2018.

$6.8 million to reconstruct the East 34th Street Station, which serves all three rail lines.

$6 million to replace substations near the Puritas, West 65th, and Van Aken-Warrensville rail stations.

$5 million to replace the East 116th Street light-rail Station, just west of Shaker Square.

$4.8 million to upgrade the fiber optic system that deals with signals and train controls.

$3.8 million to reconstruct the Red Line track between West 75th and West 98th streets.

$2.5 million to purchase 20 Paratransit vehicles to replace those that have outlived their useful life. Paratransit’s fleet includes 80 vehicles in-house, plus 78 vehicles from sub-contractors.

$1.2 million to design the reconstruction of tracks 10 and 13 at the Tower City Station.

$670,000 to upgrade its network infrastructure, data center, phone system and Intranet.

$500,000 to design concrete portals at the Tower City Station.

This year in RTA history

65 years ago: Feb. 14, 1952, CTS broke ground at Windermere to start Red Line construction.

40 years ago: July 5, 1977, Transit Police unit formed with 25 full-time officers.

30 years ago: 1987, RTAnswerline began at 216-621-9500.

25 years ago: 1992, New rail station opens at West 25th Street.

20 years ago: November 1997, Windermere rail station named for Louis Stokes.

10 years ago: Oct. 30, 2007, RTA named Best System in North America.

5 years ago: Sept. 10, 2012, RTA announces expanded trolley service.

For Your Safety: Follow Code of Conduct, ensure safe riding

  • Pay the required fare for all trips.
  • Allow room for boarding, keep aisles clear.
  • Take only one seat.
  • Use headphones with audio devices.
  • Speak softly on cell phones.
  • Refrain from using profane language.
  • Be considerate of fellow passengers.
  • Follow all posted safety and restriction signage.
  • Place trash in receptacles at stations and stops.
  • Exit through the rear door on buses.

Misconduct on a public transit system is a crime. If you follow these rules, everyone on board will have a clean, safe trip.

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