RTA Rapid Transit

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GCRTA Rapid Transit
Cleveland Skyline 2015.png
Cleveland Red Line Train 10-2015.jpg Cleveland Blue Line Train 10-2015.jpg
Cleveland HealthLine 2015 Crop.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
2 Light rail: Blue and Green lines[1]
2 Bus rapid transit: HealthLine, Cleveland State 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 April 11, 1920 (light rail)
March 15, 1955 (Rapid transit)
Operator(s) Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Number of vehicles 60 Rapid transit cars
48 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 and light rail system in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County owned by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA). The system comprises three lines—the Red Line (rapid transit), and Blue and Green Lines (light rail).


All four (Red, Green, Blue and Waterfront) lines join at Tower City Center in downtown Cleveland, the former Cleveland Union Terminal. From Tower City to East 55th the three (Red, Green and Blue) lines share track and 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). Also, all three of the lines share one set of tracks at two of the three stations that are served by all three lines. The two stations where all of the lines are on one set of track are East 55th and East 34th-Campus. They then separate into three separate sets of track again before reaching Tower City Station.

Red (heavy rail)[edit]

Main article: Red Line (Cleveland)

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.

Light rail[edit]

Blue and Green[edit]

The Blue and Green light rail lines 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 Green line continues due east along Shaker Boulevard (State Route 87) until reaching its terminus at the intersection with Green Road. The Blue Line veers southeast along Van Aken Boulevard until reaching its terminus at the intersection of Warrensville Center Road, Northfield Road (State Route 8) and Chagrin Boulevard (U.S. Route 422).


The Waterfront Line, opened in 1996, extends the Blue and Green Lines from Tower City north to Lake Erie and northeast along the lakeshore. The Waterfront light rail line provides access from Tower City Center to the Flats, Cleveland Browns Stadium, the Great Lakes Science Center, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Burke Lakefront Airport.

Bus rapid transit[edit]

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


Main article: HealthLine

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 Midtown Cleveland and 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 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]


See also: RTA Fares

Effective September 1, 2009, the one-way cash fare on the RTA Rapid Transit is $2.25. A five-ride 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. [1]


RTA Rapid Transit system map. The Red, Blue and Green Lines share trackage from Tower City east to roughly East 68th Street.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "About RTA - RTA Facts". Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  2. ^ APTA Quarterly Transit Ridership Report, 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. 

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