May 22, 2001: RTA Board approves U-Pass program at CWRU

May 22, 2001

CLEVELAND -- Would you pay $25 for a 15-week semester of unlimited rides on buses and trains of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA)?

"YES" said a majority of the 3,500 undergraduates at Case Western Reserve University who voted in an April 24 student referendum. The issue, endorsed by the student government there, passed by a 2-1 margin, and came after more than a year of planning and discussions.

Today, the RTA Board of Trustees gave the project a green light for the Universal Pass (U-Pass) program for a fall 2001 startup.

"This is great news for RTA," says CEO & General Manager Joe Calabrese. "It gives us a stable revenue stream, exposes more students to the benefits of public transportation, and generates more rides. They will find RTA is economical and easy-to-use."

Surveys show that some 25 percent of CWRU students now ride RTA at least once a week. However, once photo ID cards are distributed for the U-Pass program, that figure should grow to 60 percent. The campus is served by several bus routes and is close to a Red Line rapid transit station.

RTA Marketing Director Steve Bitto says that CWRU students now account for an estimated 113,000 trips annually. That figure is expected to rise to 280,000, once the U-Pass program begins.

A similar program is being considered at Cleveland State University, where a committee has been formed to study the matter. RTA officials have also had preliminary discussions with the staff at Cuyahoga Community College.

Other such programs are being developed at universities across the nation.

Area educators who want more information on U-Pass can contact Bitto at 216-566-5255, or send e-mail to

RTA background

RTA's mission is to enhance the quality of life in Greater Cleveland by providing outstanding, cost-effective public transportation services. RTA's 3,000 employees operate 754 buses on 1,100 route miles, and 108 rail cars on 34 miles of track. Bus operators drive more than 92,000 route miles every day, and RTA carries more than 45 percent of all public transit riders in Ohio. RTA's bus and rail fleet is the 13th largest in the nation, and RTA carries an average of 207,000 riders each weekday. In 2000, more than 59 million passengers rode RTA's trains, buses, Community Circulators and paratransit vehicles.

For personalized scheduling, call the RTAnswerline, 216-621-9500, from 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday. Persons who are hearing impaired can call 216-781-4271. Commuters can visit RTA's Customer Service Center, 315 Euclid Ave., from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. Service information can be accessed at

MEDIA CONTACT: Jerry Masek, 216-566-5211