U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) — ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which oversees public transit — announced $5,850,000 in new federal funding for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) to help GCRTA update the radio communications system that connects its bus, paratransit, and rail systems.
“Greater Cleveland goes to work, school and the doctor’s office on RTA’s buses and trains. To get Ohioans there safely and efficiently, RTA needs the most up-to-date communications system possible,” said Brown. “This significant award will improve direct communication between customers, RTA and its operators throughout Cuyahoga County.”
“We’re finally able to throw away the Campbell soup can and string,” said GCRTA CEO/GM Joe Calabrese. “Our current system is obsolete and parts availability has been so difficult that we were sometimes shopping on Ebay for discontinued parts. We’ll be replacing a DOS-based communications system with 21st century technology. This grant will allow us to update our entire communications system and bring it into the 21st century to improve the quality of our service and the safety of our customers.”
Reliable real-time information will be available to customers, with live tracking and departure data from specific stop locations on bus and rail. Plus updates will be every 15 seconds instead of the current three minutes.
The accuracy of apps will be improved, and on site updates at bus and rail stops will be real time. Operators will also be able to use reliable navigations services and interact more quickly with public safety forces and RTA headquarters.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program awarded the funding, which will make sure GCRTA can maintain safe bus and rail service and replace its obsolete radio system. The U.S. DOT share is $5.8 million, and with additional local and federal matches, the total project will cost $18 million.
The communications system services GCRTA’s entire bus and rail fleet of more than 500 bus, bus rapid transit, and paratransit vehicles, and more than 100 heavy and light rail trains. GCTRA serves Cuyahoga County’s 1.26 million residents, with 47 million annual trips covering 457 square miles throughout northeast Ohio.