Free RTA micro-transit program will cover last-mile rides to jobs

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is launching a new workforce connector program to expand job opportunities in North Olmsted, Fairview Park, Brookpark, Berea, Middleburg Heights and western Cleveland.

Employees and jobseekers who use the 54, 78 or 86 bus lines or who ride the Red Line can be picked up at RTA’s Brookpark Station and shuttled for free directly to their jobs throughout the Aerozone Alliance region, which includes Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and the NASA Glenn Research Center. They’re dropped back at the station at the end of their work day.

SHARE Mobility provides the last- and first-mile transportation and schedules rides in advance to ensure efficiency. It also funds half of the cost, with RTA, though a state grant, paying the other half — up to $300,000, depending on the number of rides given.

Job growth and access is the goal.

“The opportunities at the Aerozone District span dramatically; all the way from highly educated and experienced aerospace engineers to entry level technicians,” Aerozone Executive Director Hrishue Mahalaha said in a news release on the program. “Thanks to RTA’s micro-transit grant, we can now address a very critical opportunity of more efficiently connecting the workers to these cutting-edge jobs and significantly easing what can sometimes be a very lengthy and taxing commute.”

It follows a micro-transit pilot program that launched earlier this year in Solon.

In that part of the county, riders who use the 19, 40, 41 and 90 bus routes can be picked up at the Southgate Transit Center and shuttled to work in the city. In the 70 days it has been operating, the program has provided 1,000 rides to four participating employers, officials told RTA staff during a July 18 committee meeting.

Though RTA has only committed to the pilot programs for 18 months, it hopes to maintain the service and consider expanding it to other communities to increase employment opportunities throughout the county, General Manager and CEO India L. Birdsong Terry has said in news releases on the program.

“We know the value of job accessibility and recognize its importance as it relates to economic development and overall community strength,” she said.