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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Cleveland plans free-ride guarantee


When Joe Calabrese took the reins at Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) last February, he promised he’d revamp RTA’s image by improving customer service, cleanliness, training and security.

"The best way to get to where we want to go is to give [passengers] the very best service," said the authority's chief executive officer and general manager last summer in an interview (see July 2000 Progressive Railroading). "Be responsive to their needs."

Calabrese already has been working toward that goal by publishing quarterly report cards. Now he’s putting the agency’s performance on the line.

As of Monday, Feb. 5, passengers unsatisfied with their service will be able to take a postcard available in every one of RTA’s 850 buses and 108 rail cars, fill out the requested information and mail it to RTA.

Then RTA will mail a one-free-ride fare card to that customer.

"There is not a stronger action you can take to tell your customers that you care about them," said Calabrese in a prepared statement.

RTA likely will dish out some free rides. But to Calabrese, the information the cards could generate is the key. RTA plans to look for patterns in the responses to identify areas of customer concern and address them. He introduced a similar program at Central New York Regional Transportation Authority in Syracuse, N.Y., where Calabrese once served as executive director and president.

"This is another way to communicate with our customers," he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/2/2001