RTA Named "Most Innovative" at the 2021 Trapeze-Vontas Conference

Apr 27, 2021

CLEVELAND, OH – The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) was presented with the Innovation Award from Trapeze-Vontas at its 2021 virtual Think Transit Conference today.

The award is for "the most innovative and forward thinking person or organization", and was granted to RTA for the development, design and implementation of a new on-board and integrated communications system.

The new system eliminated outdated technology and replaced it with a number of new features including, state-of-the-art vehicle alarms, priority cellular service, new radio communications towers and a turn-by-turn navigations system.

In 2019, RTA was operating one of the oldest radio and computer systems of all the public transit authorities nationwide.  Installed in the mid-2000s, the onboard system was obsolete, difficult to maintain and offered limited capabilities to the riders, says Michael Lively, project manager, and RTA’s Manager of ITS.

With the help of grant funding, a bold vision and a small, dedicated team, RTA now operates one of the most advanced systems in the country.  Within a 14-month period (July 2019 – September 2020), RTA was able to transform its operation by removing and installing new onboard equipment on more than 500 vehicles,” said Lively. 

RTA worked with six vendors to coordinate, program and launch the new system while minimizing the impact to day-to-day operations. The last vehicle installation was completed months ahead of schedule, and the overall project was under budget.

"This award is a well-deserved celebration of the months of hard work, which would be challenging under the best of circumstances," said Dr. Floun’say Caver, RTA’s interim CEO and General Manager.

"But since most of the installations were carried out during the pandemic, this shows a level of dedication by Mike and his team that we all would do well to emulate. We are proud to have such dedicated staff on board, and we share our hearty congratulations for all they did to earn such a prestigious award."

Some of the new features include, but are not limited to:


Previous Technology

Enhanced Technology

Vehicle Alarms

Covert alarms are audio only

Covert alarms are audio and visual (Future). The visual video will allow RTA to perform a live look into the vehicle.

Priority Cellular Service

No cellular service

With FirstNet, if there is a major event or catastrophe, RTA has priority over the public. Our cell service won’t slow-down/go out due to high capacity

Radio Communication

4 radio towers with significant coverage gaps

13 towers that cover the entire county and utilize towers across the state. RTA utilizes the state’s MARCS system created for 1st responders. RTA can now communicate with 1st responders in the event of an emergency

Paratransit Contractors

No direct communication or scheduling of vehicles

Direct scheduling of manifests with contractors. Each contractor has a tablet with software application managed by RTA dispatchers.


No navigation available. Route books and maps are utilized

Turn-by-turn navigation, including re-routes, special events, etc

Pre-Trip Inspection

Operators review their vehicle and complete paper forms for defects

Operator performs the inspection (paperless) on the new vehicle tablet. Saves more than 200,000 pieces of paper annually.

Predictive Maintenance

Limited monitoring tools

Real-time predictive maintenance and monitoring of vehicle components. This allows RTA to monitor vehicles and inform operators/maintenance of errors before the vehicle breaks down.

Vehicle Location

Poll rate = 1 minute

Poll rate = 15 seconds Reliable real-time data phone/tablet app

Equipment Maintenance

No maintenance available due to obsolete parts

Long-term maintenance contracts with all vendors


No Wi-Fi

Complimentary Wi-Fi on all RTA buses and trains. Averaging 450 gigs of usage per day

Enhanced Data

Significant loss of reliable data

Accurate data, including, but not limited to, ridership, cellular usage, real-time information, vehicle diagnostics, etc. RTA provides information to app developers free of charge. App developers use this information to real-time bus/train locations, capacity levels, trip planning and will integrate with fare payment in the future. Fields Available for App Developers:

  1. Vehicle Number
  2. Vehicle Latitude and Longitude
  3. Vehicle Odometer
  4. Vehicle Speed
  5. Vehicle Type
  6. Vehicle Position
  7. Trip Updates
  8. Alert and Delay Updates
  9. Stop Time Updates
  10. Bus Load/Bus Load %

Media Contact:

Linda Krecic 
216-390-9605 (mobile)