CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - RTA held the first of 13 public meetings to discuss rate hike proposals and changes of their current routes at their headquarters on West 6th Street.
Protestors chanted, "Fix, fund it, make it fair," outside RTA headquarters on Monday.
Many of those who were protesting and who later spoke at the public meeting, said they couldn't afford the rate hikes that are being proposed.
"My savings and everything, it can't take anything being withdrawn. It's working against me," said Mary Shackelford, who lives in Cleveland and works two jobs.
Sandra Ellington works at the airport. She says a proposed route change would be dangerous.
"I work second shift. I work 2:30 to 11. So, that would mean I could get home 12:30-1. It's a drastic change. I live in not a very good neighborhood, but I have no choice," said Ellington.
RTA is proposing to discontinue their #2, #43 and #239 bus routes due to low ridership. Those buses now provide service to E. 79th, Lake/Wolf, and Euclid Park-N-Ride.
Among the rate hikes, RTA is proposing that the current $2.25 fare would rise to $2.50. Another fare that's now $2.25 would be raised to $2.75.
According to a press release, for paratransit, some fares may rise from $2.25 a ride to $3.50 a ride. ADA customers may no longer ride regular buses and trains for free. Personal care attendants may pay the regular fare on buses and
RTA CEO Joe Calabrese says cuts in state funding are making the rate hikes necessary.
"Our funding has been cut at a state level. Our funding has been cut on a national level. So, for us to keep providing the service that people want and need, we have to raise the rate so we can better afford that," said Calabrese.
Maple Heights City Councilman Ron Jackson says he'll have to pay more to ride, but that the problem isn't with RTA, it's state lawmakers.
RTA says they get only .63 cents per person for public transportation, whereas neighboring states like Pennsylvania provide an average of $57.71 cents per person for public transit.
"I know it's going to be hardship on some people with the fare increases, but I think it's still the best deal in town," said Jackson.
RTA says they haven't increased their rates since 2007.
The board will vote on the cost saving proposals at the end of April. If the board votes to put the rate hikes into effect, riders would begin paying the new fares in August.
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