RTA Weighs Fare Increases, Including For Paratransit Customers

Photo by Flickr.com's Valdosa-Loundes MPD.
Photo by Flickr.com's Valdosa-Loundes MPD.

By ideastream's Brian Bull

Cleveland’s bus and rail service plans to increase passenger fares next year, including higher fares for people with disabilities.

The latest RTA Budget contains a proposed fare increase from $2.25 to $2.50 for regular passengers.  

For paratransit customers – those using specialized RTA buses and vans that pick them up at home or other designated locations – the proposed increase would go from $2.25 to $3.50.

RTA CEO Joe Calabrese says the costs in providing paratransit service are about 10 times greater than for standard buses.  And they carry out 750,000 trips a year with their paratransit service.

“I think it’s incorrect to assume because someone has a disability and can’t take the regular service bus that they’re also financially disabled. Because that’s not true," says Calabrese. "Many of these people that we’re taking to and from work and to and from school the way we’re taking other people for those travel destinations.” 

Calabrese adds the RTA has not raised fares for seven years.

Meanwhile, a disability rights advocate with the group, The Arc of Greater Cleveland, says the proposed fare increase will disproportionately penalize people who rely on public transportation for work, school, and care. 

“I understand that RTA could certainly make that even higher, by law and the ADA they’re permitted to charge double," says Cindy Norwood, the group's executive director. "So they could go up to $5.00 per person for paratransit services.  Is it the right thing to do?  That’s really the bottom line.” 

Public hearings on the proposed RTA budget are scheduled for December 1st and 15th.

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