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Cleveland Transit Sees Ridership Uptick After Pandemic Lows

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has seen an increase in ridership since public transit riders dropped off due to the pandemic. June ridership numbers stand at about half of the previous year’s totals.

by Courtney Astolfi, The Plain Dealer / July 28, 2020
An RTA bus makes a right-hand turn on Superior Avenue around Public Square on Jan. 2, 2017. TNS

(TNS) — Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority ridership has started to rebound from record lows in spring, when the coronavirus pandemic kept people at home.

RTA in June provided about 1.2 million rides, still far below the 2.4 million rides provided in June 2019, but well above the roughly 780,000 rides provided in April, Chief Operating Officer Floun’say Caver told RTA trustees on Tuesday.

Depressed ridership translates into a 27% percent drop in fares over the course of the year and about half of what was expected during the month of June, Caver reported.

RTA’s largest revenue source, sales taxes, are down too, with collections in July about 21% less than usual.

Year-to-date sales tax collections are only down 3.5%, Caver said, which officials in the past have attributed to strong collections in the first few months of the year prior to the pandemic.

RTA operations were also buoyed by $111.9 million in federal aid, of which about $74 million has been spent.

Those funds have allowed RTA to continue providing service while continuing to pursue major changes to its operations that have been in the works for over a year, Caver said.

Such plans include redesigning bus routes, making changes to the fare policy, and starting the process of buying rail cars, Caver said. Trustees are expected to be briefed on all three projects during an August meeting.

©2020 The Plain Dealer, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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