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Understanding the Cleveland RTA System


Cleveland Rapid Train at the Waterfront Station

Rapid Train at the Waterfront Station

(© istockphoto)
Understanding the Cleveland RTA System
(© 2006 S. Mitchell)

Cleveland's Regional Transit System (RTA) traced its history back to the city's first electric railway cars in the late 1900s, the first such system in the United States. Today, RTA oversees a system that encompasses 59 municipalities, 458 square miles, four rail lines, and 90 bus routes. RTA carries more than 1.3 million passengers annually.


Cleveland's public transportation system began in the late 19th century with the electric railways that connected downtown to E. 55th St. and later University Circle. The light rail (rapid) trains were added between 1913 and 1920, when the Van Sweringen brothers added the service to connect downtown with their new suburb of Shaker Heights.

Today, the Cleveland RTA system includes 90 bus routes and four rapid lines, employs more than 2,600 people, and carries more than 1.3 million passengers annually.

The Busses:

The Cleveland RTA bus system includes more than 731 buses, trolleys, and circulators. The system includes 8502 bus stops, 1338 shelters, 90 routes, and more than 22.2 million service miles.

The Rapid Trains:

The Cleveland RTA Rapid train system includes four lines. The Red line connects Cleveland Hopkins Airport with the Terminal Tower to the west and the Terminal Tower to Windermere Station on the east side. The green line connects Terminal Tower to Green Rd. via Shaker Square and the Blue line connects Terminal Tower with Warrensville Rd. via Shaker Square.

The Waterfront line connects the Cleveland Harborfront (near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), the Warehouse District, and the East Bank of the Flats with Terminal Tower.

The Trolleys:

The downtown Cleveland trolleys connect the Terminal Tower with Playhouse Square, the Warehouse District, and the East Fourth St. Entertainment District as well as linking the government buildings along E. 12th St., between E. 12 St. and the Warehouse District.

The service runs from 7am to 11pm weekday and from 7am to 7pm on weekends. A third line connects the Cleveland Municipal parking lot on Lakeside with Public Square on weekdays between 530am and 6pm. All trolleys and are free.

Fares and Passes:

RTA buses are $2.25 (as of September 1, 2013). All-day passes are $5. Rapid fares are also $2.25.  Senior/Disabled passengers pay $1 and $2.50 for a daily pass. Monthly, five-ride, and weekly passes are also available.

Where to Buy RTA Passes and Farecards:

RTA Passes and farecards are available online, at many local businesses via the computer advantage program (ask at work), on the buss or train, at the RTA Service Center at the Tower City Rapid Station, and at over 150 outlets throughout Northeast Ohio. Call 216 621-9500 for a location near you.


Park n Ride:

Cleveland RTA operates twelve Park-n-Ride locations, where riders can pay one fare to park and ride the bus to work. The fare is $2.50. Weekly and Monthly passes are also available.

Park-n-Ride lots are located in Brecksville, Berea, Euclid, Solon, N Olmsted, Maple Hts., Strongsville, Westlake, Bay Village, Parma, and Fairview Park.

The Euclid Corridor Project:

The latest RTA development is the Euclid Corridor Project, a dedicated route that connects Public Square in downtown Cleveland with the arts and cultural district, University Circle, via Cleveland State University and the Cleveland Theater District. The route has special, energy efficient vehicles, a dedicated "smart" transit lane, and a series of public art projects. 

Contact Information
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
1240 West 6th St.
Cleveland, OH 44113
216 566-5100
Web site

(updated 10-3-13)

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