Reply to Jerry Masek's article, "RTA service changes affect Collinwood"

In response to RTA's Media Relations Manager, Jerry Masek's article, "RTA service changes affect Collinwood" (March 1), I have many questions and issues which I feel require greater attention and clarity.

In the article, Masek outlines the services changes to our local community bus routes, #30, #34, and  #39/F, that started on April 4, 2010. He said "RTA will retain (the #39/F) weekday midday service and rush hour service," but will end evening and weekend service. 

The #39/F rush hour service is not acceptable because the bus is always standing room only.  On April 2, 2010, the #39 leaving Tower City at 3:20 pm going east, was filled to capacity before it reached Ontario. It was hot, there was no air conditioning, and the seats were dirty. Also, drivers do not take into consideraton that disabled people need time to get off the bus. So could Mr. Masek please alert drivers to the fact that riders are still holding onto the handrails when they step into the street, and to NOT slam the door on them or start the bus!

Masek's explanation to riders about the discontinued evening weekend #37 bus routes south of Severance Center is:  they have an "option -- (to) Ride the #37 to the Windermere Rapid station, ride the Red Line to the Superior Rapid station, and transfer to the #40."  This explanation does not include information that taking THREE different bus routes requires a lot more travel time to make connections, and results in a much longer and inconvenient ride. He fails to mention that RTA does NOT provide transfers anymore, so riders pay $2.25 every time they board a bus. A round-trip fare would cost $13.50, unless the rider purchases an All Day Pass on the first bus, at a cost of $5. 

Since RTA claims they are making service cuts because of funding losses, could Masek please explain why the 1% sales tax designated to fund the RTA is not sufficient, while the 1/4 % sales tax increase created by Cuyahoga County Commissioners Tim Hagan and Jimmy Dimora to raise $400 million for the medical mart, is sufficient!  Somewhere along the way...the math does NOT add up!

And, is it true that RTA handed out over 150 pink slips to its drivers, who make over $50,000 a year, so they can hire new drivers at minimum wage? And does RTA waste funding by providing a new uniform to drivers each week? And does RTA endanger commuters by having drivers work 12 hour shifts, on the #39 bus route (from 6AM to 6PM?) Isn't it dangerous to have exhausted drivers taking riders coming home at 5 o'clock on I-90?

Is having transit police sporadically check activated passes on the HealthLine a waste of money? RTA built the HealthLine to bring in riders from the suburbs, so isn't it a deterrent to riders to see Transit Police taking a homeless man off the bus in handcuffs, because he did not have an activated fare card? (He may now have to pay a fine of $250.)  The man said he "did not know how to use the machine." He was referring to the ticket vending machines, which are impossible to use. Since riders are required to have an activated fare card to be able to board the HealthLine...why are the ticket vending machines so complicated?

RTA's explanation of how to use the machines to buy fare cards ( is quite complicated. If any reader knows how to figure this out...let me know!

Sometimes there are no transit checkers, and the bus is standing room only, with a cramped area for passengers to stand because the aisle is smaller than on a regular bus. The HealthLine does not have any more seats than a regular bus and it is TWICE as big! (The HealthLine was built with $200,000 of Government Grants, so why is it standing room only?) Would YOU continue to ride the HealthLine after a day experiencing all of this?

And is it true that RTA has received "Recovery Act grants totaling $12.5 million...(including) $3.2 million for "operating assistance'?"  And that Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich "sent a letter to Mr. Joseph Calabrese, (RTA) General Manager"...asking him to restore jobs and bus routes slated for elimination," as posted on  Kucinich's website:

RTA riders deserver clarity, respect and answers. 

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Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 10:58 AM, 05.06.2010