CLEVELAND - As protestors rallied outside the RTA's main office building Monday, RTA CEO Joe Calabrese issued a statement.
"The last thing we want to do is raise fares or reduce service," Calabrese's statement said. "If it was up to us, we’d like to provide more service at an even a lower cost, but it’s just not possible given current funding."
Due to a reported $7 million shortfall, RTA plans to either increase far by 25 cents, cut routes, or a combination of both.
RTA cites a lack of state funding for the proposed changes, noting that the state has not increased its investment in public transit, providing 63 cents per person as part of the budget. Ohio public transit funding was almost $45 million in 2000. Now, it sits under $10 million, according to RTA:
Read Calabrese's full statement below:
"RTA welcomes those who are here today expressing their support for public transportation, and sharing our concern regarding funding.
Your efforts demonstrate that we are all working towards the same goal, which is to speak on behalf of increased investments in public transit.
The last thing we want to do is raise fares or reduce service. If it was up to us, we’d like to provide more service at an even a lower cost, but it’s just not possible given current funding.
The service changes we are proposing are minimal and will bring us back to the service levels we provided in 2013. However, they are very meaningful to those whose service is impacted.
In addition, we haven’t had a fare increase in seven years, but no fare increase is welcomed.
We are now providing more service than can be paid for with the revenue we collect.
As you know, no individual or family can run their own budgets in that way – spending more than they bring in – and we can’t do so either.
In fact, RTA spends $750,000 per day to operate our buses and trains, and has, by far, the most robust transit systems in the state. We serve more people than the next three largest transit systems combined (Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton).
We want to be able to continue to provide service at these levels, and that’s what our customers have come to rely upon, and need.
But it takes a greater commitment from the state to make that happen. Ohio allocates only 63 cents per person from their budget for public transportation.
Our neighboring states, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois, provide an average of $57.71 per person.
A study released by the State just last year highlighted the importance of public transit to the future of Ohio and suggested that the State should significantly increase its investment.
So far they have not, and we now have to look at raising fares and revising some of our least utilized services to be financially stable.
Thank you for joining us today as together we express the importance of keeping public transportation as accessible and affordable as possible.
We take every opportunity to address our concerns to our lawmakers.
We are glad to see our customers and supporters doing the same."