Waterfront Line

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Waterfront Line
RTA Green Line train.png
A Waterfront Line train approaching Settlers Landing
LocaleCleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
TerminiSouth Harbor
Tower City
TypeLight rail/Tram
SystemRTA Rapid Transit
OpenedJuly 10, 1996[1]
Number of tracks2
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
ElectrificationOverhead catenary,
600 volts DC[2]
Route map

South Harbor
East 9th–North Coast
Amtrak DodgerBlue flag waving.svg
West 3rd–Stadium
Flats East Bank
Settlers Landing
 Red  to Airport
Tower City

The Waterfront Line is a light rail line of the RTA Rapid Transit system in Cleveland, Ohio, running from Tower City Center downtown, then north and northeast to South Harbor station, adjacent to the Cleveland Municipal Parking Lot. The Waterfront Line is the newest rail line in Cleveland, having opened in 1996. The 2.2 mile (3.5 km) line is unique in that it is an extension of the Blue and Green lines, but has its own naming designation. All RTA light rail lines use overhead lines and pantographs to draw power.


The line opened on July 10, 1996, coinciding with Cleveland's bicentennial celebration which took place later in the year.[3] The line had a total cost of $70.9 million and was funded by a combination of bonds, grant money from the Ohio Department of Transportation, and local RTA funding.[3]

Route description[edit]

From South Harbor, the lines extends generally west-southwest adjacent to the former New York Central Railroad tracks, now owned by Norfolk Southern. Notable destinations along the line include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and FirstEnergy Stadium. Trains will stop at Amtrak's Cleveland Lakefront Station upon request.

The line continues along an elevated loop, allowing it to turn from west-southwest to south-southeast, cross over the Norfolk Southern tracks and travel along the east bank of The Flats. The route passes through three grade crossings.

The line then turns east and climbs up from The Flats in two cuts on either side of the Red Line. It merges onto the Red Line tracks and travels through Tower City. Through service between the Waterfront Line and the Blue and Green Lines is provided at Tower City.

From April 2010 through May 2013, RTA completely eliminated weekday regularly scheduled Waterfront Line service due to low ridership and trains ran on the line only on weekends and for special events. Though seven-day-a-week service on the line was restored, a number of trains continue to use Tower City as a western terminus.

Tower City is the major station on all RTA Rapid Transit lines. It is the main station serving downtown Cleveland and it provides a convenient transfer point between the Red Line and the Blue and Green Lines.

Future extensions[edit]

Plans have been drawn up to loop the Waterfront Line back through downtown to Tower City along city streets, but it seems unlikely to move forward in the near future. With the completion of the HealthLine project, a new heavy rail line has been proposed that will connect Rocky River and Euclid.[citation needed] There has also been a proposal to extend the Waterfront line, from the current South Harbor (municipal parking lot at East 14th Street) eastward along the lakefront, to the Glenville or Collinwood neighborhoods or to Euclid or beyond. This eastward expansion is still a part of the Cleveland Planning Commission's Lakefront Development proposal.

An additional station on the Waterfront Line section that loops over the NS tracks, is a part of nearly every plan for that area. Initially, the Cleveland World Trade Center would have had the station in the lobby of the facility, then the Eaton Corp headquarters, but neither project was built. Currently, the announced Lakefront Redevelopment plan has the proposed station as an integral part.[4]

Fare collection[edit]

Fares are paid upon entering when traveling southbound and upon leaving when traveling northbound. Fares are collected on board the train except at Tower City Station, where they are collected at faregates entering or leaving the station. The station on the Waterfront Line have facilities for collecting fares, but those facilities are not used except during special events, such as during Cleveland Browns games at West 3rd Street Station.


Blue and Green Line trains operate from approximately 3:40 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily. On weekdays, each line operates every 10 minutes during rush hour and every 30 minutes at other times. Service between Tower City and Shaker Square operates every 5 minutes during rush hour and every 15 minutes at other times. Service on the Waterfront Line is limited to approximately every three westbound trains from 6:35 a.m. to 8:50 a.m. and again from 3:35 p.m. through 7:20 p.m. Between 8:50 a.m. and 3:35 p.m. and again between 7:20 p.m. and 10:20 p.m., all westbound trains travel along the Waterfront Line. No Waterfront Line service is provided between 10:45 p.m. and 6:35 a.m.

On weekends, each line operates every 30 minutes. Service between Tower City and Shaker Square operates every 15 minutes and all westbound trains from 9:20 a.m. through 10:20 p.m. operate on the Waterfront Line.

Rail replacement bus[edit]

During rail shutdowns, RTA uses replacement buses signed as route 67R. These shuttle buses run between Tower City and South Harbor on surface streets.


Platform at Settlers Landing
Riders may use the flag stop at Cleveland Lakefront Station, but Amtrak trains arrive in the middle of the night

All stations are located within Downtown Cleveland.

Station[5][6] Date opened Date rebuilt Connections / notes[5][6]
South Harbor Handicapped/disabled access Parking available July 10, 1996[1] RTA Bus: NineTwelve Trolley
East 9th–North Coast Handicapped/disabled access RTA Bus: NineTwelve Trolley
Amtrak Parking available December 1997 Amtrak: Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited
Flag stop
West 3rd–Stadium Handicapped/disabled access August 12, 1999[1] Laketran: 10, 11, 12
Flats East Bank Handicapped/disabled access July 10, 1996[1]
Settlers Landing Handicapped/disabled access
Tower City Handicapped/disabled access July 20, 1930 December 17, 1990[1] RTA Rapid Transit: Red Line, Blue Line, Green Line, HealthLine
RTA Bus: B-Line, C-Line and E-Line Trolleys; 1, 3, 8, 11, 14, 15, 19, 22, 26, 38, 39, 39F, 45, 51, 51A, 51B, 51C, 53F, 55,A–B–C, 76, 77F, 79, 79A, 81, 90F, 246, 251, 263
METRO RTA: 60, 61
PARTA: 100
Laketran 10, 11, 12


  1. ^ a b c d e "History of public transit in Greater Cleveland". Cleveland, Ohio: Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  2. ^ "Catalog of "Common Use" Rail Corridors" (PDF). Office of Research and Development, Federal Railroad Administration, United States Department of Transportation. April 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 16, 2008. Retrieved July 19, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "How the Waterfront Line was constructed". Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. December 22, 2016. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  4. ^ "Architects Reveal Plans For Cleveland's Waterfront Development". Archived from the original on 2009-07-12. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
  5. ^ a b "Green Line (Shaker) / Blue Line (Van Aken)" (PDF). Cleveland, Ohio: Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. December 15, 2013. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Major Stations". Cleveland, Ohio: Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2015.

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata