Click here for a PDF of the full Transmittal Letter and proposed budget.
To: Rev. Charles P. Lucas, President and Members, Board of Trustees
From: India L. Birdsong Terry, General Manager, Chief Executive Officer
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) continues to prioritize projects and opportunities that promote our Mission, “Connecting the Community,” and the four pillars of our Strategic Plan: Community Value, Customer Satisfaction, Financial Sustainability, and Employee Engagement.
The Transit Ambassador program, which includes Transit Ambassadors and Crisis Intervention Specialists, has h elped to improve the customer experience when riding our service. The Transit Ambassador’s primary function is to assist customers during any part of their journey, from beginning to end. The Crisis Intervention Specialists are experienced in de-escalation tactics and can provide customer referrals to social safety net programs when necessary.
We held a ribbon cutting ceremony in February for our Connectworks microtransit program. This program is a collaboration between the Authority, City of Solon, Chamber of Commerce of Solon, and area businesses in efforts to expand equitable access to Solon employment opportunities for all the greater Cleveland region, with the hope of expanding to other communities in the future. A second Workforce Connector Program with SHARE Mobility was begun in October for employees in the Aerozone Alliance region. The private-public mobility partnership program will be providing rides from the Authority’s Brookpark Station directly to employment opportunities in areas of North Olmsted, Fairview Park, Brookpark, Berea, Middleburg Heights, Cleveland, NASA Glenn Research Center, and Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Rides are scheduled in advance to ensure efficiency for riders and sustainability in program implementation.
In April, staff from GCRTA, Cleveland Public Library, and Kids’ Book Bank joined forces to distribute free books at Tower City, Stokes Windermere, and West Park stations. Riders were also encouraged to join the Cleveland Reads challenge.
The GCRTA has been awarded $432,000 by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to study Transit Oriented Development along the Broadway Corridor. The study will create a plan to connect existing and future economic development, affordable housing initiatives, transit investment, and foster multi-modal connections.
We added four new members to the Board of Trustees. Two members were appointed in May by Cleveland Mayor, Justin Bibb: Calley Mersmann and Jeffrey Sleasman. Two members were appointed in October by Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne: Deidre McPherson and Stephen M. Love. We welcome them aboard, and agree their experience will be beneficial to enhancing the Authority’s impact on the community.
Akron METRO RTA began operating scheduled fixed route bus service to and from the Authority’s Southgate Transit Center to various places in Summit County. Customers arriving at the Southgate Transit Center will now have the ability to transfer from one bus authority to another in reaching various destinations between Cleveland and Akron. This is a huge win for both transit agencies and metro areas.
As part of fellow team members’ capstone project with Cleveland State University’s (CSU) 2023 Leadership Academy, two fundraisers benefiting the A Place 4 Me initiative. A Place 4 Me is a local initiative, partnered with the YWCA of Greater Cleveland, that supports and assists youth (ages 14‐26) who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. This provided a great opportunity to support our employees who are Connecting the Community.
The Authority, along with the Union Miles Development Corporation (UMDC), collaborated on a project to feature six local and national historic individuals on bus shelter locations within the Authority’s Union‐Miles service area. These historic individuals include Stephanie Tubbs‐Jones (MLK Drive at Avon Ave.), Carl & Louis Stokes (E. 131 St. at Glendale Ave.), Fred Hampton (Miles Ave. at E. 131 St.), Harriet Tubman (E. 131 St. at Harvard Ave.), Malcolm X (E. 131 St. at Harvard Ave.), and Barack Obama (E. 131 St. at Miles Ave). The artwork was created by well‐known artist, Mr. Soul.
The Annual “Touch a Truck” event was held in August in Public Square. The Authority conducted vehicle demonstrations, provided on‐site Operation Community Watch with Transit Police Officers, provided a “meet and greet” with some of the Authority’s K‐9 Officers, and provided the staff of the Authority’s Human Resources Division to educate the community about job opportunities and careers at the Authority.
In October, the Board of Trustees approved seven members who will serve as the newly created Civilian Oversight Committee (COC): Elise Auvil, Timothy Clary, Jakolya Gordon, David Morris, Steven Sims, George Taylor, and Rebecca Wharton. The COC is a voluntary and proactive effort that seeks to give voice to the community and enhance accountability through an independent review and investigation of public complaints of alleged misconduct regarding its Transit Police Department.
The Board of Trustees approved a new contract with Siemens Mobility, Inc. for the builder of 24 Siemens Model S200 rail cars, with an option to purchase up to 60 total cars. These cars are modeled after those at San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and Calgary Transit. These cars will feature two door heights for high and low‐platform accessibility; ADA accessibility; advanced infotainment system for enhanced digital and travel experience; modern operator cab area with a dedicated HVAC unit, heated windshield, and enhanced visibility; ice cutting pantographs on each car; 52 passenger seats, two wheelchair areas, and four bicycle areas per rail car.
In May we launched a new RideRTA.com website. This new website features improved accessibility, keyboard navigation control, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and rich internet applications to enhance the accessibility of the website.
In September, we held a ribbon‐cutting ceremony to launch the re‐opening of the Waterfront Line for Brown’s games. The Waterfront Line resumed limited service for the Brown’s games. Final site clean‐up activities will continue through early Fall, and we will continue to perform various upgrades while the trains are not running. Regular scheduling for the Waterfront Line will be evaluated for 2024.
A new 3‐year contract with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) was signed in March. Both negotiation teams put forth significant effort to reach a fair agreement for both the employees and the Authority.
In preparation for our new rail cars, the Authority purchased a property in Brook Park. This property features both warehouse and office space, which will support the new rail car project, work equipment for Rail Facilities, and meeting and training space for Human Resources.
On Friday, May 5, 2023, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, U.S. Congresswoman Shontel Brown, Federal Transit Administrator Nuria Fernandez and local leaders toured the Authority’s Rail Equipment Building. They awarded the Authority $130 million, through the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) to support the Railcar Replacement Project.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration has awarded the Authority approximately $3.3 million of a Low‐No Grant. The funding will assist the Authority in the purchase of six environmentally friendly 40‐foot Compressed Natural Gas‐powered buses.
The Authority was awarded a $12.6 million grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Ohio Transit Partnership Program (OTP2) for use towards the Rail Car Replacement Program and a planned study for electric vehicles. The majority of the funding ($12.4 million) will go towards the Rail Car Replacement Program
and $200,000 will be used for electric vehicle planning study.
Since launching our Positive Impact Program last August, we have hosted 12 Mentor training classes with up to six Operators being trained in each class to be mentors. We have had great results with the program, including: 82% success rate for new Operators in the program. The success of the program is a result of great collaboration between the Transportation Managers and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Operator representatives. Other transit agencies have reached out to us inquiring about our program and how they can create a similar program. A celebration for the 1‐year anniversary of the program took place in November 2023 with representatives from the ATU Local 268, International ATU, the International Transportation Learning Center (TLC), and GCRTA. The ceremony will recognize mentees who have graduated from the program and the mentor leaders.
The Authority has hosted several Job Fairs for Career Opportunities throughout the year. These positions include operators, laborers, mechanics, signal maintainers, line maintainers, and substation maintainers.
The Authority will continue to focus on initiatives and projects related to our strategic plan. The 2024 budget continues to support the pillars of the strategic plan. We have eliminated steps for operators and Transit Police officers in order that employees can reach the top step faster. The Transit Police Ambassadors and Crisis Intervention Specialists will continue to enhance the customer experience throughout the entire journey, including finding routes, purchasing tickets, boarding buses and trains, connecting to free WiFi, and getting to
their destinations. We are excited to continue the contract with Siemens Mobility, LLC and look forward to the day we can accept the new high‐low floor rail vehicles into our system.
We will continue to seek feedback from the community, our customers, and our employees through surveys. This feedback will provide the path toward enhancing the riders’ experience, enabling better connections, highlighting the Authority as an economic driver in the community, and elevating the region as a transportation
leader. We look forward to what we can accomplish in 2024 and beyond.