CLEVELAND, Ohio — Patty Girman depends on RTA’s No. 55 Clifton bus to get her to and from work at Cleveland Public Library branches.
If evening and weekend service is discontinued she said she would probably have to move.
“I’ve been taking RTA for 15 years and I would have to walk close to a mile to catch another bus,” she said. “Most of us need RTA to head to work. These jobs are not prestigious but they put food on the table. We can’t afford a car or insurance.”
Girman was among about 125 people who attended a public hearing this afternoon in the Cleveland Public Library Auditorium this afternoon to comment about RTA’s plans to reduce bus service by 12 percent next April. It includes eliminating some weekend and evening service.
The hearing was the first of 10 that will be held this week throughout Cuyahoga County.
Those at the hearing represented a cross-section of riders — elderly, disabled, single parents and those who hold several jobs to make ends meet.
Most are transit-savvy — having ridden buses and rapids since they were young. They know where to transfer to another bus, alternate routes and how to navigate across Cuyahoga County.
But they said the proposed reductions — a loss of one of every eight bus routes — will hit them hard.
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority officials say the move, which will save about $9 million, is necessary as they try to close a gap in the budget created by steep declines in sales tax revenue.
“You say there is a recession but there is one for us too,” said Charlena Kirkman of Cleveland. “Our jobs are cut, we take lower paying jobs and we cannot afford a car. We need RTA.”
Kirkman said she works two part-time jobs, in catering and security, that require her to take RTA across the county at all hours and days.
“All these cuts will affect me,” she said. “I am the sole support of my three children. I have to work weekends and nights — whatever I can and whenever I can to live and eat.”
RTA officials said the proposed reductions they have as little an impact as possible since other routes are available. But speakers said it would require walking father and waiting longer for a bus — often in areas where they do not feel safe.