Red Line (Cleveland)

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     66: Red Airport-Windermere Line
GCRTA Red Line
Type Rapid transit
System RTA Rapid Transit
Locale Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Termini Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
Louis Stokes Station at Windermere
Stations 18 Total:[1]
3 Shared (w/Blue-Green-Waterfront)
15 Red-only
Services Route # 66 (Red: Airport-Windermere)[2]
Daily ridership 26,500 (weekday)
Opening March 15, 1955
Owner Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Operator(s) Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Rolling stock 60[1]
Line length 19 miles (31 km)[1]
Track length 19 miles (31 km)[1]
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification Overhead catenary,
600 volts DC[3]
Route map

The Red Line (Route 66) is a rapid transit line of the RTA Rapid Transit in Cleveland, Ohio, running from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport northeast to Tower City in downtown Cleveland, then east and northeast to Windermere. 2.6 miles (4.2 km) of track, including two stations (East 34th-Campus and East 55th), are shared with the light rail Blue and Green Lines; the stations have high platforms for the Red Line and low platforms for the Blue and Green Lines. The whole Red Line is built next to current or former freight or intercity passenger railroads. It uses overhead lines and pantographs to draw power.


The corridor along which the Red Line runs had been planned for use since before 1930, when the Cleveland Union Terminal opened. The first short section, between East 34th and East 55th Streets, was in use by the Cleveland Interurban Railroad in 1920, and in 1930 the line between East 34th and the Union Terminal was completed. It was not until March 15, 1955 that the eastern half of the Red Line opened, from the existing line near East 55th northeast next to the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (Nickel Plate Road) to Windermere. The line from downtown southwest to West 117th Street opened August 15; this line ran next to the Nickel Plate to the crossing of the New York Central Railroad near West 101st Street, and then next to the New York Central. On November 15, 1958, an extension to West Park opened, and the final section, continuing to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, opened in 1968, the first airport rail link in North America.

Schedule and headways[edit]

The Red Line runs from approximately 4:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily. Trains run about every 15 minutes during most times, with extra service provided between the Airport and Tower City during rush hours.[4] (Service to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is provided by # 22 Lorain buses between 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m.)

Fare collection[edit]

See also: RTA Fares

Effective September 1, 2009, the one-way cash fare on the RTA Rapid Transit is $2.25. A five-trip fare card can be purchased for $11.25. An All-Day pass, allowing unlimited riding on the rapid transit as well as on RTA buses is $5.00 ($2.50 for children). Weekly and monthly passes are also available, and there are discounted fares for seniors and disabled.

Many of the stations formerly had a secure turnstile system as well as staffed agent booths, but RTA removed them in 2009 at all but two stations in favor of a proof-of-payment system.

Before boarding, passengers must either purchase (and thereby activate) an All Day Pass or 1-ride or 2-ride farecard or swipe and activate their pre-purchased farecard/pass at a ticket vending machine (TVM). Higher volume stations have customer service kiosks where passengers may purchase a full range of RTA fare media. Once their pass/farecard has been activated, passengers are permitted to enter the station's "fare paid zone" which is clearly marked by signage at each station. While in the fare paid zone, as well as while on the train, passengers are subject to random checks by RTA Transit Police to ensure that each person has paid a fare. Violators are subject to criminal prosecution.[5]

At downtown's Tower City Station, the sole remaining station on the line where passengers consistently pass through secure turnstiles,[6] departing riders must swipe their pass/farecard at the gate to gain access to the platform and arriving passengers must swipe their proof of payment card to exit the station.[5]

Rolling stock[edit]

The Red Line uses a fleet of 60 stainless-steel subway-type cars manufactured by Tokyu Car Corporation and delivered to RTA between 1984 and September 1985.[7] The cars have three sets of doors on each side, one in the center and one at each end adjacent to the operator cab. The cars' exteriors originally had orange and red stripes along the sides, but these stripes were removed when RTA changed to a red, white and blue color scheme. Twenty of the cars are operable in single units, and they are numbered as 181-200. The other 40 cars are operable in pairs, and they are numbered as 301-340.

The current fleet of Red Line cars is undergoing an in-house rehabilitation under the direction of former director of rail Michael Couse. Only the 40 paired cars are to be rebuilt, the single units will presumably be retired. The cars will be overhauled over the course of 3–5 years using federal grant money. Cars will receive new pantographs and controllers, along with rebuilt trucks, traction motors, resistor banks, new flame-retardant flooring, LED lighting, new seat frames, revised interior paneling, and additional open space for improved ADA compliance. The first of the rebuilt cars was unveiled to the public on December 10, 2013.[8]

Red Line cars at the West Park station in 1968

The current cars represent the third generation of cars that have been used on the line. The line opened using a fleet of shorter cars manufactured by the St. Louis Car Company in 1954 and 1955. The cars were 48 12 feet (14.8 m) long with blue and gray exteriors and are often referred to as "Blue Birds." They were virtually identical to the cars built by St. Louis Car at the same time for what is now the MBTA's Blue Line. Twelve cars were operable as single units with cabs at each end, and 56 cars operable as pairs. The single units were numbered as 101–112, and the paired units as 201–256. Additional cars in this fleet were purchased in 1958 when the line was extended to West Park. These comprised six additional single unit cars (numbers 113–118) and 14 additional double unit cars (numbers 257–270).

When the extension to Hopkins Airport was being built in 1967, a fleet of 20 longer cars was purchased to supplement and replace the Blue Birds. These second generation cars, numbered as 151–170, were 72 feet (22 m) long and were built by Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company. The cars, which had a stainless steel exterior with red and white trim and featured interior luggage racks, were promoted as "Airporters." The Airporters supplanted the Blue Birds, except during rush hour when extra cars were needed. In 1970, ten additional Airporters were purchased, numbered as 171–180. With the purchase of the Tokyu cars in 1985, all Airporters and Blue Birds were retired.

Pop culture references[edit]

A Red Line train at West 117th-Madison station.

The Red Line is prominently featured in the final scenes of the film Proximity, starring Rob Lowe and James Coburn. The finale involves a hostage on a Red Line train and a gunfight and chase scene through the Tower City station.

Station stops[edit]

The Red Line has the following stations from west to east, listed with indications of their accessibility, availability of free parking, travel time to Tower City, and opening date for Red Line service):

Name Other Lines Travel time to Tower City Opened Rebuilt
Cleveland Hopkins Airport Handicapped/disabled access 26 min November 15, 1968 May 1994
Brookpark Handicapped/disabled access Free parking 22 min April 20, 1969 Planned
Puritas – West 150th Handicapped/disabled access Free parking 19 min November 15, 1968 May 17, 2011
West Park Handicapped/disabled access Free parking 17 min November 15, 1958 May 1996
Triskett Handicapped/disabled access Free parking 15 min November 15, 1958 November 15, 2000
West 117th–Madison Handicapped/disabled access Free parking 13 min August 14, 1955 October 16, 2007
West Boulevard–Cudell Handicapped/disabled access Free parking 10 min August 14, 1955 April 1999
West 65th–Lorain Handicapped/disabled access Free parking 07 min August 14, 1955 September 21, 2004
West 25th–Ohio City Handicapped/disabled access 04 min August 14, 1955 September 1992
Tower City–Public Square Handicapped/disabled access           00 min March 15, 1955 December 17, 1990
East 34th–Campus           04 min March 1, 1971 August 18, 2003
East 55th Handicapped/disabled access Free parking           06 min March 15, 1955 October 11, 2011
East 79th 09 min March 15, 1955
East 105th–Quincy Handicapped/disabled access 12 min March 15, 1955 November 4, 2005
Cedar–University Handicapped/disabled access 14 min March 15, 1955 Rebuilding in process
Euclid–East 120th 16 min March 15, 1955 Renamed from University Circle after reconstruction in 2014
Superior Handicapped/disabled access Free parking 18 min March 15, 1955 September 1996
Louis Stokes at Windermere Handicapped/disabled access Free parking 20 min March 15, 1955 June 22, 1997


The new RTA Station at Cleveland Hopkins Airport was rebuilt in 2011.

  1. ^ a b c d "About RTA: RTA Facts". Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  2. ^ "66X Red Airport-Windermere schedule" (PDF). Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  3. ^ "DoT/FRA/ORD-03/16 Catalog of "Common Use" Rail Corridors" (PDF). Office of Research and Development, Federal Railroad Administration, United States Department of Transportation. April 2003. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  4. ^ Route 66X Weekday: Red Line. Schedule from RTA Website. Retrieved November 25, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Red Line upgrades fare collection system". Retrieved 2009-08-06. 
  6. ^ The Airport Station also has turnstiles/an agent booth, but they are inconsistently used, usually requiring passengers to utilize the TVMs and proof of payment system.
  7. ^ About RTA: History of Public Transit in Greater Cleveland. RTA Website. Retrieved on 2007-06-14.
  8. ^ RTA unveils new Red Line cars. RTA Website. Retrieved on 2013-12-10.


External links[edit]