November 3, 2008
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Greater Cleveland RTA Launches HealthLine BRT
“This exciting project is a role model for the rest of the nation.” With those words, Federal Transit Administration Chief Counsel E.S. Severn Miller joined other officials Oct. 24 to launch the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s (GCRTA) new HealthLine—the first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in the nation to be funded with federal New Starts money.
“This BRT project is cost-effective and environmentally friendly,” said Miller. “It is a terrific way to move people.”
The weekend-long launch of HealthLine service began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and continued with free service, a community open house along Euclid Avenue, fireworks, and a family concert. The 21 new Rapid Transit Vehicles (RTV) operating on the line, 63-foot articulated vehicles powered with hybrid-electric engines, were packed much of the time.
GCRTA signed a $168.4 million Full Funding Grant Agreement for the project in October 2004. Development work for the BRT project has included the restoration of Euclid Avenue.
The HealthLine connects Cleveland’s two largest employment centers, downtown and University Circle, ending in neighboring East Cleveland. The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, both located on the route, purchased naming rights to the line for $6.25 million.
The line operates on 9.4 miles of transit-only lanes on Euclid Avenue and two downtown streets.
The 63-foot RTVs from New Flyer were designed specifically for use on the HealthLine, with doors on both sides, 11 interior and exterior cameras, and a signal prioritization system. The service operates with “rail-like” features such as level boarding, precision docking, and off-board fare collection.
“I am thrilled that this first-class service will significantly reduce travel time for our customers,” said GCRTA Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese. “It has already generated more than $4 billion in new and planned development.”