RTA: not a pain in the gas

June 24, 2008

Thank you Cleveland Plain Dealer for putting that all-influential power of the media to good use.

As I picked up yesterday’s newspaper in search of something good to read as I munched on my honey nut cheerios, I couldn’t resist my habitual tendency of flipping directly to the Arts & Life section. Despite its obnoxious reviews of the latest celebrity goings-on, this section pretty consistently offers what I consider to be the most interesting articles of the newspaper. And if not, then there’s always the comics printed on the last two pages.

Anyways, today’s main article of this section was entitled “The wheels on the bus go round and round.”Although this phrase may immediately bring to mind days of big yellow buses, angry bus drivers, and that one kid who always seemed to throw up on the school bus to make for a smelly ride to school, this article by John Campanelli tells of the bus for adults. He endorses the use of the RTA bus system to get around Cleveland. Despite the negative regard and paranoia about safety that often revolves around the idea of riding the bus, this article embarks on the commendable journey of altering public regard of the public transportation system. Campenelli writes,

“For those of us who haven’t been on a bus that wasn’t yellow, riding RTA can be intimidating. Some might view it as a loss of freedom or a sign of defeat.

They’re wrong.

Riding the bus is a victory, for you, for the community and for the environment. And with the cash and aggravation you save, you’ll feel liberated.”

He goes on to describe the nuances involved with riding the Cleveland RTA that one may be unfamiliar with and therefore hesitant about.

Now if only the RTA would expand its routes to make its benefits plausible for more people to use. But it seems there’s no hope for that. Turning the page of the paper, I discover another article: “RTA use grows; service wont.” Although RTA use has grown more than 10% this year, the increased usage fails to keep up with the increasing price of the diesel fuel that buses use. Letting down my hopes that the increased price of gas would lead to widespread use of public transportation, it seems that the costs are weighing too heavily on the bus companies to carry more routes and more people. “We’re not going to add more service. We may have to cut more service because we have to pay for the diesel fuel,” says the general manager of Cleveland’s RTA system Joe Calabrese. RTA is already estimating losing $18 million dollars due to gas prices in the upcoming year if they don’t make any changes. Ouch. Looks like the Plain Dealer offered their endorsement for the RTA a little too late.

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