(Plain Press, January 2016) On December 10th, at two public meetings held late afternoon and early evening at Max Hayes High School, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) riders had a chance to voice their concerns about a proposal by RTA to replace the current routes #21, #45 and #45A with a revised Route #45. The proposal, if implemented, would eliminate north-south bus service on W. 65th Street in Cleveland.
RTA officials said the proposed new route #45 would travel from downtown west to W. 25th Street, south on W. 25th to Clark Avenue, west on Clark Avenue to W. 73rd, then south on W. 73rd to Denison. The bus would then continue south on Ridge Road to the Parma Transit Center and Tri-C West with limited service to North Royalton. An RTA official said that, if they approve the new route, it would probably start operation sometime between March and June of next year.
If the proposal is approved, the parts of the #45 and #45A routes that would be eliminated would be on Detroit Avenue from W. 25 to W. 65th, on West 65th from Detroit Avenue to Denison Avenue, and on Denison Avenue from W. 65th to Ridge Road.
RTA says the proposed route changes would allow for improved service on Clark Avenue and W. 73rd from daytime only service, five days a week, to daytime and evening service, seven days a week. Currently, the route #21 bus serves Clark Avenue. The new route #45 bus would replace the route #21 bus.
At the late afternoon meeting, most of those giving testimony opposed the loss of bus service on W. 65th Street. A resident, age 71, of W. 71st and Franklin said her neighborhood was already a transportation desert with the loss of bus service on Franklin and Madison Avenues. She said, “We do not need to loose W. 65th too.”
Dean Van Farowe, pastor of Calvary Reformed Church at 1918 W. 65th Street, said that a number of members of Calvary Reformed Church take the bus from Parma or Parma Heights to the church. He noted that the walk from Calvary Reformed Church down W. 65th to Clark would be over a half mile. He noted that people from the neighborhood going to Cuyahoga Community College’s western campus would also have no great north-south connection. “It is not a good decision from where we sit,” said Reverend Van Farowe of the proposed route change.
A resident of W. 65th and Detroit said she depended on the #45 bus to go to Cuyahoga Community College’s western campus and to go to shopping areas.
Megan Meister, Director of Community Engagement at Neighborhood Family Practice said two of the Neighborhood Family Practice clinics would be affected by the proposed RTA route change. She noted that many of the patients served by Neighborhood Family Practice are Medicaid recipients and many are dependent on public transportation. Meister said that refugee patients, patients with difficulty walking, behavioral health patients and those with chronic disease would have decreased access to services because of the bus route changes. Meister called for increasing bus service in the neighborhood.
A woman, who volunteers at H. Barbara Booker as a tutor, says she now takes the #45 bus from Clark to Lorain Avenue. She expressed safety concerns about walking over the bridge over I-90. She said she also uses the 45 to go to the Neighborhood Family Practice on W. 65th and Franklin.
A man who rides the #45 from Parma to work on third shift at downtown, says on his return trips from 7-9 a.m. the #45 is full almost every day. He testified that there are a lot of students going to Cuyahoga Community College’s western campus that are using the #45. He said that on his ride to and from downtown, the #45 is being used. He said one drawback of using the #45 is the bus only comes once an hour, “If you don’t catch it, you are in trouble.”
Another #45 bus rider noted the number of Cuyahoga Community College students riding the bus and said the buses were not offered frequently enough and the maintenance of the buses was substandard. She said she had difficulty walking and if she had to walk to Max Hayes from the rapid, there would be no way for her to have come to the meeting this evening. She urged RTA, “Don’t make eliminations, but make increases.”
A woman, who lives at W. 32nd and Franklin, said she depends on the #45 bus to go to the eye doctor at the Ridge Road Shopping Center. She said she also rides the bus to Parma and Cuyahoga Community College and sees a full bus. She said she would be disappointed if the current #45 route were eliminated. She suggested that instead the #21 route be extended to go down Ridge Road to Cuyahoga Community College’s Western Campus.
A resident of the area north of Lorain on W. 65th said the #45 was the nearest bus and the best route to travel south to Brooklyn, Parma and Cuyahoga Community College.
Ward 3 Councilman Joe Cimperman said that Clark Avenue residents would like the added services that would result from the route change. He said that, currently, the #21 bus on Clark was not getting a lot of riders because the route is short – it ends at the Denison Loop and it is available only on weekdays. He said Clark Avenue riders would like the additional weekend and evening service. He said the realigned #45 would benefit both Clark Avenue and W. 73rd and result in a longer route with seven day a week service. As for the corner of W. 65th and Clark, he said the #45 would continue to serve the corner, only from Clark, rather than from W. 65th.
A rider of the #26 bus on Detroit Avenue expressed concern that the already overcrowded #26 would become even more crowded if the #45 stopped coming down Detroit from W. 25th to W. 65th.
RTA officials noted the number of east/west bus routes that cross W. 65th Street as well as walking access to W. 65th from the W. 65th Rapid Station. They cited short walks from Lorain or Detroit, or Clark and W. 65th to many locations on W. 65th. They also noted that a number of buses also cross Clark Avenue where riders could transfer to the new #45. They said while transferring may be an inconvenience, the trips still could be made to and from destinations on W. 65th if allowing for a short walk.
Ward 14 Councilman Brian Cummins noting the dominance of comments concerning loss of service on W. 65th at the late afternoon meeting, said he expected supporters of the Clark Avenue increases in bus service to be in attendance at the evening meeting.