"It's actually a good system," says rider Michael Hall.
Buying his pass along one of 35 elevated Euclid Avenue stations, but that's not why Cleveland's Healthline is different.
"First Class is what we tried to do, First Class is what we delivered," says Cleveland RTA's Joseph Calabrese.
Transit GM Joseph Calabrese says what really makes bus rapid transit so rapid, the buses have their own lanes, and shall we say, bus-friendly traffic lights. They cut commute times by as much as 10 minutes. These rapid transit buses don't go all over town, they just follow one route along one avenue. Corporate big shots included, Healthline served 4 million rides last year. It's considered a national model, attracting a tour group of Kansas City officials, and previously Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. Among the selling points, Calabrese says the project attracted new development to an area with vacant buildings. It's easy to see why that might bring dreams of change along the planned route in East Nashville, but a Cleveland business owner says not so fast. Bob Cipriani runs a commercial kitchen business and he still has nightmares about how long it took to build this route. Critics say Healthline still makes it pretty tough for regular cars on Euclid Avenue and then there's the $200 million price tag. Cipriani says it hasn't brought enough development to justify.
"People live in the suburbs today," says Cipriani. "They're gonna go to the malls and shopping centers. They're not gonna get on a bus, buy something and get back on a bus."
Bus supporters point to riders like Debbie Kuntz for another perspective. Kuntz gave up her car and is okay with a longer commute. She believes Cleveland's bus is on the right track. Cleveland considered building a light rail project before deciding on bus rapid transit. Money was the big factor there as light rail would've cost a billion dollars.
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