Red Line 50th Anniversary

This November, RTA celebrates fifty years of direct rapid transit service to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.  When the final extension was completed, Cleveland became the first metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere to have a direct rapid transit connection between its central business district and an international airport.  It wasn’t Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or even Washington DC, but Cleveland, Ohio. The Red Line began operations in the 1950’s, and progressively extended service west until November 1968 when the final segment connecting the West 150th Street Station with Hopkins Airport was completed.

Today, the Red Line is still running strong. It provides a direct line to the airport 20 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with trains departing every 15 minutes—which adds up to nearly one hundred daily arrivals and departures.

By taking advantage of the Red Line, customers can:

  • Avoid daily fees by parking for free at one of our many lots
  • Dodge traffic, and all the stress that comes with it
  • Evade inclement weather, as the Rapid drops you off inside the airport terminal.
  • Travel from the Tower City Station to the terminal in about 25 minutes

Regardless of where you live—west side, east side, or downtown—the Red Line is the perfect connection to your next flight. Because whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, the Rapid will always deliver a first-class experience. 

For current Red Line schedule, visit here (PDF Version)



The Cleveland Transit System (CTS) breaks ground behind the Windermere Carbarn in East Cleveland, marking the start of construction on Cleveland’s new heavy rail line, the Red Line.


Service begins between Cleveland Union Terminal and the Windermere Station to the east and to the West 117th Street Station to the west.  More than 8 million people ride the Red Line that year, as service is provided by a fleet of rail cars manufactured by the St. Louis Car Company.  Their nickname “Blue Birds” comes from their distinctive blue color paint scheme.St. Lous Car Company Blue Bird


Red Line service is extended 1.8 miles further west, from the West 117th Street Station to the new Triskett and West Park Rapid Stations.Red Line Extension to new Triskett and Westpark rapid station


The last leg of the Red Line is completed to its new western terminus, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.  With it’s opening, Greater Cleveland has the distinction of being the only major metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere to have a direct rapid transit connection between its central business district and an international airport.Red Line connection between central business district and airportCleveland Transit Breakthrough


CTS accepts the final delivery of “Airporters”, rail cars built by the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company, specifically designed for Red Line service to the airport.  This second generation car is much longer than the Blue Birds (72’ vs 48.5’), and features interior luggage racks to better serve customers traveling to Hopkins.CTS Airporters


The Red Line’s operating fleet is overhauled one last time with the delivery of 60 stainless steel subway-type cars manufactured by Tokyu Car Corporation of Japan. With this purchase both Airporters and remaining Blue Birds are finally retired.60 stainless steel subway-type cars manufactured by Tokyo Car Corp


The Red Line station rehabilitation program commences with the opening of the new Tower City Rapid Station.  The new station represents a major component of the overall project to revitalize the City’s most  iconic landmark, the Terminal Tower. Over the next 30 years, over a quarter of billion dollars will be invested in the reconstruction of all stations along the Red Line. Station redesigns include added customer amenities, enhanced safety and security and full ADA accessibility.Tower city station 1990


RTA dedicates the new Airport Station.  Incorporated into the new station’s design is the ceramic art of Angelica Pozo which celebrates Cleveland’s rich flight-related heritage dating back to the 1930’s and the National Air Races.Redline on platform with art


Reconstruction of the Windermere Station in East Cleveland is completed.  At its dedication, the station is renamed the Lou Stokes Station at Windermere to honor of Congressman Louis Stokes, a leader in the community, a long-time member of Congress and a staunch advocate and supporter of public transportation.Louis Stokes Windermere Grand Opening


The new Little Italy Station opens on Mayfield Road.   With its completion, RTA opens it first new station on the Red Line since the opening of the Brookpark Station in 1969.Grand opening of new Little Italy station


RTA marks the 50th anniversary of service to Hopkins International Airport with the Iceland Sweepstakes.Airport Station


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