Two free trolley services in downtown Cleveland at risk to lose funding

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CLEVELAND- Two free trolley services, popular with tourists and people who work in downtown Cleveland, are in jeopardy.

The Regional Transit Authority expects funding to run out in the next few months on some of the expanded trolley services that started three years ago. RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese said it would affect the evening and weekend service of the C-Line that loops around downtown, and the Nine Twelve Line that connects workers from the municipal lot to businesses on East 9th and East 12th streets.

"We know people use it, love it. We know it's more and more important every day to people who live downtown, work downtown and more and more important for tourists who come downtown,” Calabrese said.

Joe Hogan is among the growing number of people who live and work in downtown Cleveland.

"I take the trolley to and from work every day.  So, it is a big convenience living and working downtown to be able to just hop on and get across town really easily and for free," Hogan said.

He also said he takes the trolley to go to restaurants on East 4th Street and Playhouse Square.

RTA estimates it would take $800,000 to keep the two free trolley services running.  It hopes to get that money from the city, the business community and organizations that represent downtown residents, workers and tourists.

"It really connects the Warehouse District, where we are today, with Euclid Avenue and Playhouse Square, the casino and convention center, and the hotels and the restaurants. It connects all those important dots downtown," Calabrese added.

In 2012, RTA worked with NOACA and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance for the $1.2 million annual operating cost of the expanded trolley service. That funding was good for three years.

Calabrese said RTA may eliminate the L-Line or the lakefront trolley on the weekends because of low ridership.  That trolley duplicates the Waterfront Rail service from Tower City to the lakefront. But, Calabrese stressed that RTA has the budget for all the other downtown trolley services.

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