On Tuesday, ITDP CEO Walter Hook and US Director Annie Weinstock presented awards to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Joe Calabrese in honor of the Cleveland HealthLine, which ITDP ranked as the highest-quality corridor in the US and Canada.
The BRT Standard, a best-practice guide for bus rapid transit systems that ITDP released in March, ranked the best quality BRTs from around the world as gold, silver, bronze, or basic BRT. RTA’s HealthLine achieved silver status, the only one among seven in the United States to do so. The HealthLine was completed in 2008 at a cost of approximately $200 million, and has been a great success for the city. Four million RTA customers ride the HealthLine annually, and the corridor has spurred almost six billion dollars in real estate investment along Euclid Avenue.
Annie Weinstock, director of ITDP’s U.S. program, said the HealthLine features most of the elements considered key to a rapid-bus system, including lines and stations centered in the street; riders paying before boarding; bicycle lanes; and eye-catching, accessible stations.
“The HealthLine is an example of how BRT can help to revitalize city centers, speed commutes, improve air quality, and leverage investment and development near transit, as we’ve seen with Cleveland,” said Walter Hook. “We consider the HealthLine to be a best practice for BRT in the US, and our hope is that it encourages other US cities to adopt this cutting-edge form of mass transit.”
Former Senator George Voinovich supported this project from his many years in Cleveland and served as its champion.
“It is a credit to the dedicated staff at RTA and the City of Cleveland that the HealthLine has been rated by the BRT Standard as the highest-quality bus rapid transit corridor in the United States,” said Senator Voinovich. “The HealthLine has not only dramatically improved transportation options from downtown to University Circle, it’s also been a catalyst for nearly six billion dollars of real estate investment along Euclid Avenue and is contributing a great deal toward revitalizing the city.”
Despite the increasing prevalence, prominence and success of systems like the HealthLine, many people remain unaware of the benefits, as BRT provides service typically associated with metro and subway systems. Many US cities have already visited the HealthLine as they look to plan systems of their own. “The HealthLine is rail-like in that it is frequent and easy. Customers pay off board, they enter and exit from several doors, the platforms are elevated, there is less waiting in line and more traveling time; all at a fraction of the cost of rail,” said Joe Calabrese, CEO & General Manager RTA.
The event also featured an announcement by Huntington Bank, which will contribute $30,000 per year for ten years to sponsor the maintenance of the HealthLine’s East 2nd street station. The station, just outside the bank’s downtown headquarters, will be renamed the East 2nd/Huntington station. Daniel Walsh, president of Huntington in Northeast Ohio, said the bank was proud to invest in “the highest quality bus rapid transit corridor in the country. It’s a pretty big deal.”
The event was attended by local media, including Fox 8 News and the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.