RTA in DC looking for millions in funding for maintenance, rail car replacement

RTA in DC looking for millions in funding for maintenance, rail car replacement

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Leaders for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) are in Washington D.C. attempting to gain federal funding to replace aging rail cars and make repairs to its properties.

Leaders are set to meet with a number of individuals and groups including Ohio’s U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives and The Federal Transit Administration.

RTA failed to qualify for funding from The Ohio Department of Transportation that would have given RTA nearly $60 million to replace aging cars that are long past due to be swapped out.

The request for $60 million was rejected by the Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC).

Through the state’s transportation budget, RTA is receiving $15.3 million for improvements of which $5 million will be used for rail cars.

RTA in DC looking for funding after additional funding

According to RTA’s website, it needs more than $300 million to fix and replace cars and tracks.

Ridership has declined by 31% between 2007 and 2017.

According to a recent study, ridership decline is linked to Cleveland’s population decline, job loss, and relocation.

To take a look at that recent study, click here.

In 2020, RTA projects another drop, and the budget does not include an increase in fares.

RTA leadership says without extra funding, they will not be able to sustain its current level of service and is looking into what changes need to be made.

Ohio Department of Transportation Press Secretary Matt Bruning shared this statement:

"Greater Cleveland RTA did apply for $60 million in funding for rail cars from TRAC. They were requesting $10 million per year for six years. TRAC, which is a board of nine members, voted that GCRTA’s request was not eligible because it is not an infrastructure project. Rolling stock, which includes bus and rail cars, is not determined eligible by TRAC. However, TRAC encouraged GCRTA to apply for funding from the ODOT Office of Transit, which they did. In fact, GCRTA received $15 million from the Office of Transit. (http://www.dot.state.oh.us/news/Pages/ODOT-announces-nearly-$105-million-in-grants-for-public-transit.aspx). Within the application to the Office of Transit, GCRTA was asked to prioritize their requests. Their first request was for preventative maintenance for the rail network totaling $6 million. Their second request was for $10 million for rail car replacement. ODOT funded 100% of their first request, and funded $5 million for rail car replacement. ODOT also funded a project for $660,000 to purchase land for a rail improvement project. In total ODOT funded GCRTA $11.6 million from the Ohio Transit Partnership Program (OTPP). That $11.6 million award to GCRTA made up over 25% of the $44.4 million available within the program. The remaining $3.4 was a formula based award.

As you may know, Ohio’s motor fuel tax is restricted for use on roads and bridges only, so in the most recent transportation budget, the Ohio General Assembly allocated $70 million for transit from state general revenue funds for each of the two years. Just like this year, next year will have another round of funding for transit applications and we certainly expect, hope, and encourage GCRTA to apply for that funding."

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