RTA Rapid Transit

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GCRTA Rapid Transit
GCRTA wordmark logo.svg
Cleveland Skyline 2015.png
Cleveland August 2015 01 (RTA Red Line).jpg
Cleveland August 2015 26 (RTA Blue Line).jpg
GCRTA New Flyer DE60LF-BRT.jpg
Cleveland State Line 10-2015.jpg
Owner Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Locale Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Transit type Rapid transit
Light rail
Bus rapid transit
Number of lines 1 Rapid transit: Red Line
3 Light rail: Blue, Green, and Waterfront lines[1]
3 Bus rapid transit: HealthLine, Cleveland State Line, MetroHealth Line
Number of stations 18 Rapid transit
34 Light rail[1]
Daily ridership 19,300 (Rapid transit)
10,800 (Light rail) (2006 figures)[2]
Began operation October 25, 1859 (first streetcar line)
December 17, 1913 (current lines)
March 15, 1955 (Rapid transit)
October 11, 1980 (Light rail)
Ended operation January 24, 1954 (last streetcar line)
October 30, 1981 (PCC streetcars)
Operator(s) Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Number of vehicles 40 Rapid transit cars
34 Light rail cars[1]
System length 19 miles (31 km) Rapid transit,
18 miles (29 km) Light rail[1]
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

RTA Rapid Transit (generally known as The Rapid) is a rapid transit, light rail, and bus rapid transit system in Cleveland and surrounding areas in Cuyahoga County. The system is owned and operated by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), and currently consists of 7 service lines.


Four rail lines join at Tower City Center in downtown Cleveland, the former Cleveland Union Terminal. Three lines share their tracks at East 34th–Campus and East 55th stations. This sharing of one route between light and heavy rail is quite unusual, and the shared stations have connected platforms of two heights to accommodate the two kinds of trains. The two types of trains both use the same maintenance facility since they both use the same track gauge and same source of power (overhead catenary).

In addition to the four rail lines, RTA also operates three bus rapid transit lines. Although these lines consist of bus service, the RTA considers them as a part of the rapid transit system and includes them on its official rapid transit map.

Red Line[edit]

The Red Line, a heavy-rail route, runs in both directions on fully grade-separated rights-of-way, built from 1955 to 1968. It serves Cleveland's southwest suburbs with its southwestern terminus at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Heading northeast, the Red Line serves University Circle before heading to its northeastern terminus at the Louis Stokes Station at Windermere in East Cleveland.

Blue, Green, and Waterfront Lines[edit]

The Blue and Green rail lines (alternatively known as the RTA Shaker Rapid) were built from 1913 to 1936 as grade-separated lines closer to downtown and surface lines along street medians in the streetcar suburb of Shaker Heights. The two lines part ways at Shaker Square, a historic mixed-use community in Cleveland proper, just west of the Shaker Heights border. The Blue Line veers southeast along Van Aken Boulevard until reaching its terminus near the intersection of Warrensville Center Road and Chagrin Boulevard (U.S. Route 422 and State Route 8). The Green line continues due east along Shaker Boulevard (State Route 87) until reaching its terminus at the intersection of Green Road.

The Waterfront Line, opened in 1996, extends the Blue and Green Lines from Tower City north through the flats. It then travels northeast along the shoreline of Lake Erie, servicing the local Amtrak station, and terminates in the Muni lot. The Waterfront light rail line provides access from Tower City Center to the Flats, FirstEnergy Stadium, the Great Lakes Science Center, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Burke Lakefront Airport.


In October 2008, RTA opened its first bus rapid transit line, originally referred to as "Silver Line", running along Euclid Avenue, providing a direct route between Cleveland's primary tourist attractions from Downtown Cleveland through University Circle to East Cleveland. Naming rights for the BRT were bought by The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, and the line was named the HealthLine.[3] The system includes dedicated bus lanes between Public Square and East 105th Street close to the inner median where stations in that portion of the route are also located. All stations along the route feature off board fare collection and the vehicles include a GPS locator on board, which allow automated traffic signals to give the HealthLine buses priority at busy intersections. In addition, the HealthLine runs 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

Cleveland State Line[edit]

A typical station along Clifton Boulevard on The Cleveland State Line Bus Rapid Transit

In December 2014, RTA opened a second bus rapid transit to serve the western suburbs of Cleveland as well as a larger portion of downtown including Cleveland State University, which purchased naming rights to the route. The line carries the "55" designation, the same route number used by the BRT's predecessor.[4] Only a portion of the line along Clifton Boulevard, from the western terminus of Cleveland Memorial Shoreway to Webb Road in Lakewood includes a dedicated bus only lane. However, the bus only designation only applies during rush hours with the eastbound lane active during the morning rush and the westbound lane active during the evening rush. In addition, there is no off board fare collection; all passengers must pay or swipe/dip their farecards on board the bus. All outbound trips originate from the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Transit Center near Cleveland State and travel through downtown to Public Square before entering the west shoreway. Shortly after reaching the Lakewood border, the line divides into four sub-routes:

  • 55: Travels down Clifton and continues to follow U.S. Route 20 to Detroit Road until reaching Wagar Road where it travels south before terminating at the Westgate Transit Center on Center Ridge Road in Fairview Park.[5]
  • 55A: Travels north on West 117th Street to Edgewater Drive returning briefly to Clifton before heading north on Belle Avenue to terminate at Lakewood Park.
  • 55B: Travels down Clifton and continues to follow Lake Road into Bay Village where it follows Wolf, West Oviatt, and Osborn Roads west to Bradley Road before returning to Lake Road to travel east to its terminus at Wolf and Cahoon Roads.[5]
  • 55C: Travels down Clifton and continues to follow U.S. Route 20 to Detroit Road until reaching Crocker Road in Westlake where it terminates at Crocker Park.[5]

The 55 base route runs Monday through Saturday from early A.M. though the evening. The 55A and 55B routes run Monday through Friday during the morning and evening rush hours only. The 55C route runs Monday through Friday twice during the morning rush and twice during the evening rush.[5]

MetroHealth Line[edit]

On Sept. 21, 2017, RTA announced a new partnership with the MetroHealth System to rebrand the number 51 family of routes.[6] On Dec. 3, 2017, the rebranded MetroHealth Line began service with 20 new vehicles, fully branded with the MetroHealth logo. More than 400 bus stop signs and 37 shelters also display the new logo along the routes. This service is essentially just a branding; other than new specially designed buses, there are no other BRT features present. All outbound trips originate at E 12th Street & Rockwell or Superior & W 3rd St, travel through Public Square and then south on W 25th St/Pearl Road until reaching Pearl Road & Broadview Road, located just south of the MetroHealth South Campus where the route splits into four branches:[7]

  • 51: Continues on Pearl Road, to the bus loop at Drake & Howe. Buses can terminate early at the Southland Shopping Center or the Strongsville Park & Ride.[8]
  • 51A: Continues onto State Road, Pleasant Valley Road & Ridge Road before ending at Parma Transit Center. Trips between 12:00am & 5:00am operate from the West 33Road Loop.[9]
  • 51B: Continues onto Broadview Road & Royalton Road to the MetroHealth Brecksville Health & Surgery Center. Trips between 12:00am & 5:00am operate to the West 33Road Loop[10]
  • 51C: Continues onto Broadview Road & Rockside Road to Garfield Commons.

All routes run seven days a week, except the 51C. The 51A & 51B run 24 hours a day between downtown and the West 33rd Loop, with the 51B operating outbound service and the 51A operating inbound service. Weekday frequency is every 30 minutes on the 51 & 51A and every 60 minutes on the 51B & 51C. Weekend frequency is every 60 minutes on the 51, 51A & 51B.


Since August 14, 2016, the one-way cash fare on the RTA Rapid Transit is $2.50. A five-ride fare card can be purchased for $12.50. An All-Day/Cleveland 1-Day pass, allowing unlimited riding on the rapid transit as well as on RTA buses is $5.50 ($2.75 for children 6-17, seniors at least 65, disabled & Paratransit riders). Weekly and monthly passes are also available, and there are discounted fares for seniors and disabled. No fare to children below 6 when accompanied by fare-paying rider; limit 3.[1]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Overview: Facts about the Greater Cleveland RTA". Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved 2018-01-03. 
  2. ^ APTA Quarterly Transit Ridership Report Archived 2007-06-15 at the Wayback Machine., 3rd Qtr 2006. p. 17.
  3. ^ Hollander, Sarah (2008-02-28). "Clinic, UH pay to name Euclid Corridor buses". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  4. ^ "Clifton project ready, Cleveland State Line opens" (Press release). Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. December 8, 2014. Retrieved 2015-09-25. 
  5. ^ a b c d "55-A-B-C: Cleveland State Line". Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. May 24, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-25. 
  6. ^ "51-A-B-C: MetroHealth Line". Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved May 29, 2018. 
  7. ^ "MetroHealth Line 51ALL W.25" (PDF). Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved May 29, 2018. 
  8. ^ "MetroHealth Line 51 W.25-Pearl" (PDF). Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved May 29, 2018. 
  9. ^ "MetroHealth Line 51A W.25-State" (PDF). Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved May 29, 2018. 
  10. ^ "MetroHealth Line 51B/C W.25-Broadview" (PDF). Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved May 29, 2018. 

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