Cleveland Transit Agency Management Gets Pay Raise Despite Falling Ridership

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) is restoring a paycut imposed in 2009 for its management and nonunion personnel. Union drivers and other GCRTA workers have been without a contract for 17 months. The transit agencies executive director says the 3 percent pay raise is essential to keep talented staff and to “reward” their efforts during tough econonmic times.

While there is merit to this argument, GCRTA has been in a long-term decline for decades. While ridership bounced back in the early 2000s, annual passenger miles were falling before the recession. According to the National Transit Database maintained by the Federal Transit Administration, annual passenger miles and tranist trips have fallen consistently since 2006:

Annual Passenger Miles:

  • 281.4 million (2005)
  • 285.9 million (2006)
  • 254.9 million (2007)
  • 251.6 million (2008)
  • 181.6 million (2009)

Unlinked Trips

  • 65.5 million (2005)
  • 69.2 million (2006)
  • 60.2 million (2007)
  • 56.7 million (2008)
  • 45.6 million (2009)

So, the real question is: Shouldn’t pay raises be tied to performance? And what are the performance metrics? Simply enduring tough times isn’t enough.

And Cleveland isn’t any stranger to tough times as’s series “Reason Saves Cleveland” makes clear.

Also,, thanks to Transit Intelligence and its parent web site,, for its comprehensive reporting on the transit industry, the good and the bad. It’s a great public resource.