Downtown Trolleys Are Back in Cleveland, and They Are Free

CLEVELAND, March 29 /PRNewswire/ — After a 60-year absence, trolleys will roll once again on downtown streets, offering a way to experience Cleveland’s past and future at the same time.

Beginning April 10, office workers and tourists will be able to hop on one of two trolley lines developed by RTA to replace Loop bus service.

The E-Line trolley will link entertainment and education venues. The B- Line trolley will connect businesses. Both lines serve Public Square, and will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with 10-minute frequency.

If the nostalgic green-and-gold vehicles, complete with cow catchers, wooden rails, and brass bells, don’t put a smile on the face of downtown travelers, the price of riding will.

The trolleys are free now through Labor Day for — a smile.

This was accomplished through a partnership between RTA and the Cleveland Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Characters from the past will help reintroduce trolleys to Clevelanders. Radio commercials feature the voice of a 20′s vaudeville promoter, describing the trolleys as the “Cat’s Pajamas.” Trolley jingles accompany the spots, sung by a chorus line of bathing beauties.

Combining fun with functionality was the impetus for the downtown trolley lines. RTA worked with Cleveland Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance to develop the concept. Public meetings were also held to understand the changing transportation needs of office workers, college students, and a growing downtown group of residents.

“We hope the trolleys will cause office workers to break away for lunch to meet friends on the other side of downtown,” said RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese. “By making the trip free and creating a 10-minute frequency, we removed any barriers for hopping on and exploring. The ‘smile’ fare should come naturally, but it also says, ‘let’s enjoy our downtown again.’”

RTA is working with the hotel concierges to communicate the benefits of the new trolley lines to out-of-town guests. Operators with a gift for gab and knowledge of Cleveland’s history were also selected to drive the trolleys – serving as ambassadors for the city. They will dress in vintage uniforms, with motorman hats and vests.

Dennis Roche, President of the Cleveland Convention & Visitors Bureau, sees the trolleys as a great way for people to experience all that downtown has to offer.

“Great restaurants, unique music and comedy venues, and outdoor reading gardens – places that, along with well-known attractions like Playhouse Square and the Avenue at Tower City, are now just minutes away with the trolleys,” said Roche.

About RTA

RTA is the nation’s 13th-largest public-transit system, serving more than 45 percent of all public-transit riders in Ohio. Its 2,644 employees operate 108 rail cars on 34 miles of track and 654 buses on 89 routes. In 2005, more than 57 million passengers rode RTA’s trains, buses, Community Circulators and Paratransit vehicles.

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