The Skyway's future is in question: What's next?

September 16, 2015 44 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

4. Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Blue and Green Lines - Cleveland, OH
Option selected: Modification of early 20th century streetcar lines to LRT

A three-car train of 1200-type cars stops at Drexmore station in 1956 as a PCC car approaches. Photo courtesy of at

Averaging 12,400 weekday riders in 2012, the RTA's Blue and Green Lines are major components of Cleveland's rapid transit rail system.

Both lines are direct, continuously operating descendents of the Cleveland Interurban Railroad and Shaker Heights Rapid Transit.

The developers of Shaker Heights founded the Cleveland Interurban Railroad (CIRR) in 1911 to tie the suburb to Downtown Cleveland. In 1915, the CIRR developed a grade-separated rail corridor to reduce travel times for streetcar commuters.

In 1944, the City of Shaker Heights acquired the streetcar lines, operating them as Shaker Heights Rapid Transit. While the city lacked the finances to extend the system, it did invest in a fleet of PCC cars beginning in 1947. In order to gain access to federal money, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) was organized. Under the RTA, the former aging Shaker Heights streetcar lines became the Green and Blue Lines.

With access to federal money, the RTA selected to retrofit the Blue and Green streetcar lines by reconstructing the track infrastructure and replacing its PCC streetcar fleet with LRT vehicles.

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