May 5, 2023
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), joined Congresswoman Shontel Brown (OH-11) and FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez to announce a grant award of $130 million to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA). This grant award of $130 million will be leveraged with $213 million GCRTA has secured to date to finance the Rail Car Replacement Program that has a projected price tag of $393 million.
“The Senator’s leadership regarding the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is catalytic for our country and for the health and economics of Greater Cleveland,” said GCRTA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, India L. Birdsong Terry. "Senator Brown has listened and led the effort to invest in rail cars. These funds, will allow GCRTA to replace railcars purchased in 1981 and 1982 respectively, with best-in-class technology and efficiency that will elevate our system to the next level.”
“Replacing these ancient rail cars will save taxpayers money, keep workers on the job, and improve service for Clevelanders. If you’re an hourly worker, whether a train is on-time or not, can mean the difference between making your shift or not,” said Senator Brown. “I fought to secure this investment in the bipartisan infrastructure bill because transit, like RTA, is ultimately about the dignity of work. It creates jobs, it connects people with jobs, and it attracts jobs.”
“Today is a jubilant day for Cleveland with the awarding of $130 million from Senator Brown, FTA Administrator Fernandez, and Congresswoman Brown,” said GCRTA Board President, Rev. Charles P. Lucas, Pastor Emeritus, St. James AME Church. “People don’t realize RTA’s rail cars have gone through 40 years of service and repairs.” This grant provides GCRTA with the funds to replace their aging rail cars.”
The new rail car fleet will save the GCRTA $7 million per year, by reducing repair costs and provide more comfortable and reliable service for passengers. GCRTA is studying four new routes and travel options. The new rail cars are high floor light rail vehicles with doors that allow access from existing heavy rail platforms and street level light rail platforms. Thus, enabling the rail cars to operate across the authority’s entire rail network.
“One-third of our nation’s subway and commuter rail vehicles are more than 25 years old,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “This program focuses mainly on medium-sized transit agencies like the Greater Cleveland RTA, to provide them with additional means to address overdue vehicle replacements. We are proud to select these projects to improve passenger rail service for riders across the nation.”
“Revitalization of our public transit systems is key to keeping our riders safer and our communities better connected,” said Rep. Shontel Brown. “This $130 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will promote increased ridership and encourage transit-oriented development along RTA’s rail system.
“This grant award represents a tremendous investment in Greater Cleveland and prepares us for the future of rail transportation with the latest advances in rail car technology,” said Dr. Floun’say Caver, GCRTA’s Chief Operating Officer. “With these funds, we can increase our initial order of 24 new rail cars thereby improving the customer experience and expanding the number of train routes in our system.”
GCRTA has been working since 2017 to fund its rail car replacement program. Prior to this grant award announcement GCRTA had received a variety of grants and commitments to fund $213 million of the $393 million total program cost. These funds have come from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), a United States Department of Transportation BUILD grant, Congressionally Directed Spending, Community Project Funding, Federal Formula Funds and the GCRTA Rolling Stock Reserve Fund. “We thank all of our funding partners for supporting the rail car replacement program and GCRTA,” said Terry.