Living a transit friendly life
Taking transit can be easy, but you've got to know the system. That's what this page is about. From routes and schedules to fares, we'll give you the lowdown on the Greater Cleveland RTA (and other area transit agencies).
With 63 bus routes, four rapid transit rail lines and 365-days-a-year operation, your most accessible choice for getting around car-free in Northeast Ohio is the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA). The RTA system serves 46.2 million passenger trips a year, covers all of Cuyahoga County and connects to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus and other inter-city transit links. The system's main hub is located in downtown Cleveland at Tower City Center, on Public Square. Other hubs are located east, west and south of the city.
RTA's bus system
There are five types of RTA bus routes: Local, Flyer, Park-and-Ride, Paratransit and the downtown trolley.
Local buses provide regular service to and from the City of Cleveland and 59 of the suburban communities in the county. A single ride costs $2.25. An All-Day pass with unlimited rides costs $5 ($2.50 for seniors, disabled and children).
Local buses circulate on the major avenues and boulevards, and on some smaller streets. You'll generally use the Local buses for shorter trips, because stops are placed closely together. Most late night service is provided by local buses.
Check out RTA's How to Ride webpage for practical tips on how to ride the bus.
Flyer and Park-and-ride buses provide longer distance travel with fewer stops, generally connecting Cleveland's suburbs with downtown. Park-and-ride is a premium service; the cost per ride is $2.50.
Downtown Trolleys are free to ride. The green retro trolley has five lines of service in downtown Cleveland. To ride, simply wait at a stop marked by the special trolley sign and wave to the driver as he approaches. For more information on the Trolley lines.
Paratransit Although most of RTA's regular buses are equipped with lifts for the disabled, a special ADA Complementary Paratransit Service is also available. You must apply for ADA certification through the RTA offices, then call ahead to schedule your trip. More information.
RTA's Rapid System is Ohio's only rail-based transit service, operating on the Red, Blue, Green and Waterfront lines. Tower City on Public Square is the raily system's hub, providing access to all of the lines, with easy transfers from one to the other and many RTA bus routes.
Transit Centers are where several bus routes and/or Rapid Lines come together so that riders can transfer with greater ease. These centers offer a landscaped plaza, heated/cooled waiting room, and pay phones. Centers are west of Westgate Mall in Fairview Park, in Parma (on Day Drive between Ames and Ridge), in Maple Heights (5400 Warrensville Center Road), and the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Transit Center at E. 22nd and Prospect Avenue in downtown Cleveland.
RTA fares can be paid with cash (remember, exact change) as you board the bus or train, but in some cases a credit card can be used. The HealthLine, which is the bus-rapid transit service on Euclid Avenue, requires purchase of tickets before boarding—you'll buy a ticket at a covered stop along the route. The red ticket machines accept cash or credit card. The same goes with RTA's Red Line (pre-purchase). The easiest way to ride the Blue and Green Rapid Line is to purchase a pre-paid card (such as a Five Ride or Monthly Pass). Over 180 locations, from banks to grocery stores, sell RTA pre-paid ride cards, as does the main service window at Tower City (lower level near the station platform).
Hours of operation
RTA trip frequencies vary widely according to the route, the time of the day, the day of the week, and sometimes even according to the season. Basic RTA services run from early in the morning (around 6 a.m.) to early at night (about 9 p.m.). So, if you want to get to work early or leave the office late, catch a 7 a.m. flight, go to an early movie or visit friends on your way home, you probably won't be stranded.
Some bus routes provide "night owl" service around the clock from Monday through Saturday. So if you've got a graveyard work shift or you just want to close your favorite pub, RTA will meet your needs. On the other hand, some routes, such as the Express and Flyer suburban commuter routes, may have as few as two or three buses a day and only during rush hours.
For more information, check out RTA bus and Rapid routes and schedules online.
For helping understanding anything related to RTA, call the RTA Answerline at 216-621-9500 or fill out their online customer feedback form
- Greater Cleveland RTA website
- Geauga County Transit
- Laketran (Lake County)
- Lorain County Transit
- Medina County Transit
- Metro RTA (Summit County)
- PARTA (Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority)
- SARTA (Stark Area Regional Transit Authority)
- WRTA Youngstown
Public transportation is a great investment. Here are a few reasons why:
- It serves millions of people: Americans took more than 9.6 billion public transportation trips in 2004.
- It's a lifeline: Nearly 20 percent of all transit trips are taken by people over the age of 65 or under 18.
- It strengthens the economy: Every $1 invested in public transportation projects generates from $4 to $9 in local economic activity.
- It creates jobs: Every $1 billion invested by the federal government in public transportation infrastructure supports approximately 47,500 jobs.
- It saves fuel: For every mile traveled, public transportation uses about one half of the fuel consumed by automobiles, and about a third of that used by sport utility vehicles and light trucks.
- It's safe: Riding a transit bus is 79 times safer than car travel.
- It's growing: Since 1995, transit use has increased by 23 percent — faster than highway travel.
The best bike trails >
Find out where are the most interesting bike rides in Northeast Ohio
Eco-friendly landscapes >
We look inside two local guides to native landscaping and their benefits.
Your location can cost or save >
See if your neighborhood is costing or saving you more than the average