Bus ban in Public Square causing problems for RTA riders, city council

CLEVELAND, Ohio-- The ban on buses in Public Square is putting members of city council and RTA riders at odds with Cleveland police and the mayor.

"I just missed my bus because it got delayed going around the square," said RTA rider, Keith Balentine.

Balentine is one of an estimated 40,000 people who ride the RTA daily. He says since the closing of Superior Avenue he has missed his connecting bus a few times every week. His complaint is one of many from RTA riders who spoke with Fox 8.

"By it not going straight, having to make an extra turn, make an extra route, it makes me a little-- that one minute, that two minute; it means something," said RTA rider, Portia Nathan.

Wednesday, members of the city's transportation committee including city councilmen, police, the RTA general manager, and the mayor's staff tackled the issue which led to a fiery debate. Does banning buses from Public Square make the area safer for pedestrians?

"It's a bogus argument about the safety issue," said Councilman Zack Reed.

Councilman Brian Cummins argued forcing buses to bypass the straightest routes to their next stop creates more danger to pedestrians.

"There's over a million turns this is causing around the Square that puts people in more danger than what it would be if you ran buses through Superior," said Councilman Brian Cummins.

He further pointed out the closure puts the city in breach of a current agreement with the federal transit authority and the RTA.

"Over $78 million has been awarded through federal transportation dollars," said Cummins. "Any federal transit awards are at risk in the future if we continue to be at breach with the FTA."

At the meeting, police and members of the mayor's staff argued Public Square attracts thousands whose safety is at risk by opening Superior to bus traffic, citing Public Square creates the illusion of a park and children could mistakenly run into the street.

Committee members say further discussions on the issue will continue in the future.

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