The Ohio Museum of Transportation
Ohio's Transit History
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
The Early Years 1974 - 1980
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) was formed in 1974 to provide transit service to the residents of Cuyahoga County. Before the GCRTA could start operations, funding needed to be secured locally and that happened in July of 1975 when voters passed a tax referendum to provide funding to the new transit authority.
Upon the passage of the new funding tax, the GCRTA started it's merger of the various private bus companies that served the County as well as the Shaker Heights Transit System. The Cleveland Transit System was the largest acquired in this first round of acquisitions and was used as the base for the GCRTA operations (routes, fleet numbering, etc). Further acquisitions involved the Cleveland suburban operations, many of which we have short histories on in the history section of our site.
The suburban operators took some time to acquire with the City of Euclid Transit System being formally merged in 1979 and Garfield Heights Coach Lines in 1980. Negotiations still taking place in late 1980 for the merger of the Brecksville Road Transit System, North Olmstead Municipal Bus Lines and the Maple Heights Transit System which were operating as contract systems to the GCRTA.
The GCRTA had acquired, on it's formation, a brand new fleet of GM T8H5307A's (2500-2600 series) that were ordered by the Cleveland Transit System. These new coaches allowed the GCRTA to start out in a better situation than most new transit authorities. The first orders of new coaches placed by the GCRTA were for 143 AM General 10240B-8-1 coaches in 1978 and 157 GM RTS II T8H-203 coaches in 1979.
For the light rail portion of the GCRTA operations, the GCRTA purchased 9 used PCC cars from Toronto to handle the increase in ridership. Also, in 1979, 48 new light rails cars were ordered from Breda Costruziono Ferrovoaria of Italy and bids were opened for 60 new heavy rail cars.
During it's first 5 years, the GCRTA extended 33 existing routes and initiated 14 new routes. These extended and new routes added 25% more route mileage to the system over the 1974 route mileage.
Para-transit service was also provided by the GCRTA. Known as the Community Responsive Transit (CRT), the program provided free, pre-scheduled door to door service in 18 designated areas that covered all of the County. Using 71 vehicles, the CRT also provided a service known as Extra-Lift for commuter traffic during rush hour. The GCRTA had placed an order for an additional 15 vehicles which were placed in service during 1980.
Plans were also being formulated during the early years for major capital improvements in the system. These improvements included the renovation of the Shaker light rail line, new maintenance and storage facilities for the heavy rail, bus and CRT operations as well as station renovations on the Rapid.
During this time the Transit Police were also formed during the first 5 years. Starting out with 3 off-duty part-time Cleveland Police Officers, the Transit Police Dept. grew to 50 by 1980 and had a fleet of 9 cars.
Initial base fares were 25¢ for local and 35¢ for express and were guaranteed for 3 years to entice voters to pass the funding tax. The GCRTA held those fares for 5 years but raised them 15¢ in July of 1980 to cover increases in operating costs. At this time, passes were introduced to the system.
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Page updated on August 13, 2004