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SEPTA Transports Thousands of DNC Attendees; In Cleveland, RTA 'Promised a Lot, and We Delivered a Lot'

As the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) provided service to thousands of Democratic National Convention delegates and other guests during the July 25-28 event in Philadelphia, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) was taking stock of its efforts during the Republican National Convention the previous week.

Bus riders during the Democratic convention could find information on temporary route detours on the SEPTA website, with last-minute route updates posted on the agency’s Twitter feed.

During the convention, SEPTA continued to deal with a shortage of regional rail seats while its 120 Silverliner V railcars underwent repairs for a structural defect. The Maryland Transit Administration leased five more of its MARC commuter rail cars to SEPTA in addition to five other cars it leased earlier, operating along with two locomotives and five passenger cars leased by Amtrak and one locomotive and eight passenger cars from New Jersey Transit Corporation.

On July 26, APTA and partners including the National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, African American Mayors Association, National Organization of Black County Officials, Democratic Municipal Officials and National Democratic County Officials hosted an event, “Progress and Prosperity: A Local Officials Reception,” with support from SEPTA. The reception brought together the public officials attending the convention from the co-hosting organizations with other convention delegates.

As Passenger Transport went to press, SEPTA was offering free test rides July 28 on its Proterra Catalyst battery-electric bus in partnership with Proterra and PECO Energy Company, starting at the agency’s headquarters building.

In Cleveland, RTA received high praise from all sides for providing service without incident during a week of prime-time TV coverage, delegates from every state and 50,000 visitors, including 15,000 reporters from around the world—not to mention increased national and international tension and groups of protesters.

APTA Chair and RTA Board Member Valarie J. McCall, the city’s chief of governmental affairs, noted that the RNC selected Cleveland for the convention because of its “great transportation system” and added that “GCRTA promised a lot and we delivered a lot. It was a great week.”

RTA Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese said the agency “planned for the worst and hoped for the best. We got the best—even the weather cooperated.” He added that more than 100 agency employees volunteered during the convention.

APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White, left, and APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall join SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel at the reception co-hosted by APTA during the DNC.

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