Rough Ride: Even More Cuts Rattle RTA

Posted by Web Staff - email | Facebook | Twitter

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Even more cuts are hitting RTA.

First, it was routes and jobs, but now, routine maintenance is being slashed. [More on the service changes HERE.]

RTA trimmed 12% of it's routes starting on Sunday, laid off 130 drivers and other workers. On Monday, the Board of Directors faced other financial factors. Some good, others not so good.

On the good side, RTA is making money. Not as an agency, but by trading in diesel futures.

"We made .47 cents a gallon a realized gain then of $19,551," said RTA Management & Budget worker Gail Fisk.

That was for a single month. They've been in the black every month since entering futures trading a year ago. The effect on the agency is to level out price spikes like the one that devastated the budget in 2008. RTA has all of it's fuel for this year and most of it for next year at below market prices.

But the good news pretty much stops there. Also on Monday's agenda, the need to trim the budget even more. On the chopping block, the Harvard Yard. A massive repair and maintenance facility. A dozen bays with no waiting.

The Harvard Yard closing is only on weekends, for now. Starting in September, the long term goal is to close the gates for good.

The part time closing will save $163,000 dollars, if it's permanently closed the saving is $4 million dollars. It - like the layoffs - won't go very far in smoothing over hard feelings between the workers union and management.

Workers voted overwhelmingly last week to reject concessions, this week the layoffs came. Those still working are doing so without a contract, but suffice it to say in the face of the cuts, those who are driving are happy to be behind the wheel.

There are other factors at play. RTA figures show that the average transit agency gets about a quarter of its budget from the state it is in. The state of Ohio contributes only 2% of RTA's budget. But the state red ink is a sad story of its own.

©2010 WOIO. All rights reserved.