Ride Happy or Ride Free: RTA unveils new customer program

Jan 23, 2001

CLEVELAND - After Feb. 5, 2001, all transit passengers in Cleveland should be happy ones.

Officials of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) today unveiled a new customer program, Ride Happy or Ride Free. It is believed to be one of the few programs of its kind in the nation.

It is similar to a "money-back guarantee" offered by many retailers in the private sector, says George F. Dixon III, President of the RTA Board of Trustees.

"This is the ultimate customer service program," Dixon says. "RTA is putting its money where its mouth is. When you pay for a ride, we guarantee you that you will be pleased by our service. If you are not, we'll give you a free ride."

How the program works

A special poster explaining the program will be mounted in every one of RTA's 850 buses and 108 rail cars by Feb. 5. Attached to each poster will be a pocket containing postcards. Unsatisfied customers can take a postcard, fill out the requested information, and mail it to RTA. A farecard good for one free ride will be sent to that customer.

The program was initiated by RTA CEO and General Manager Joe Calabrese, who introduced a similar program in Syracuse, NY.

"There is not a stronger action you can take to tell your customers that you care about them," Calabrese says. "This is a very aggressive step, and one that not many transit agencies will take."

Calabrese says that RTA will track the responses, look for patterns, and address the concerns raised by customers' comments.

"The bottom line: This is another way to communicate with our customers," Calabrese says.

RTA Background

The mission of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) mission is to enhance the quality of life in Greater Cleveland by providing outstanding, cost-effective public transportation services.

RTA has been serving Cuyahoga County's 1.4 million residents since 1975. 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 the agency is the 20th largest employer in Cuyahoga County. RTA carries an average of 207,000 riders each weekday.

In 1999, more than 59 million passengers rode RTA's trains, buses, Community Circulators and paratransit vehicles. RTA works closely with other area agencies: Brunswick Area Transit, Medina County Transit, Lorain County Transit, Laketran in Lake County and the METRO Regional Transit Authority in Summit County.

For personalized schedule information, 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 www.gcrta.org.

Media contact:

Jerry Masek, Media Relations Manager
216-566-5211, office