Welcome to Cleveland!

By India L. Birdsong Terry | 6/3/2024

General Manager and Chief Executive Officer
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA)

On behalf of all the employees at GCRTA, I want to welcome you to Cleveland for APTA’s 2024 Rail Conference!

Cleveland has a friendly community spirit that offers residents and visitors a unique blend of opportunities and experiences. It’s a city with a thriving cultural and arts scene, with a diverse array of museums, galleries, theaters, and music venues that showcase the city’s creative spirit and artistic expression. The city’s cultural landscape is rich and multifaceted.

Cleveland is also home to North Coast Harbor, a beautiful place mixing a panoramic urban skyline with trees, green space, and sunrise-to-sunset views of Lake Erie. A popular destination where visitors can enjoy waterfront dining or take leisurely strolls along the shore.

Other attractions include the Great Lakes Science Center, an interactive museum that fosters curiosity and educational exploration; Cleveland Browns Stadium (NFL Football); and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—a renowned museum that celebrates the history and cultural impact of rock and roll music.

Cleveland’s history also boasts being the first U.S. city with direct transit service from downtown to the airport. GCRTA’s Red Line began regularly scheduled rides to and from Cleveland Hopkins Airport in 1968.

We are proud of our rail system (Red, Blue, Green, and Waterfront Lines) and equally excited about our Railcar Replacement Program. The program is currently budgeted for $393 million and aims to replace GCRTA’s 40 heavy and 34 light rail cars with 60 common cars that can operate on both heavy and light rail systems. This approach will reduce the number of railcars needed and simplify maintenance of the fleet. An initial order for 24 new railcars has been placed with Siemens Mobility.

Last spring, GCRTA was one of six sister agencies in receipt of substantial federal funding, to the tune of $130 million, to support our railcar replacement program. That grant, leveraged with additional funding secured over the years, provided the boost needed to stay on schedule—for a first train arrival to Cleveland in 2026.

While you are here, we welcome you to join us on one of several tours, starting on June 2, of the Northern Ohio Railway Museum, where you can see streetcars, interurbans, rapid transit, and railroad equipment from Ohio dating from 1895 to 1970. Another tour is the Veterans Memorial Bridge, which opened to traffic on Thanksgiving Day 1917 as the city’s first high-level bridge over the Cuyahoga River.

The 3,112-foot-long concrete and steel bridge carries two decks. The upper deck was designed for vehicular and pedestrian traffic, while the lower deck with four tracks carried streetcars until the end of Cleveland’s streetcar era in 1954. Unique views of the Cuyahoga River, Lake Erie, numerous bridges supporting Cleveland’s transportation network, and downtown Cleveland are also included.

Walking tours of our rail facility are also available, for those enthusiasts who are interested in learning more about how we upkeep and maintain our historical fleet of heavy and light rail trains.

On behalf of all GCRTA, I want to thank APTA for organizing another excellent learning and networking experience for our industry partners. We look forward to your arrival and hope you enjoy your visit to Cleveland during the 2024 APTA Rail Conference. Welcome!