Kim: Don’t be afraid of the RTA


Henry Bendon

Many students shy away from using the RTA, but it’s free, convenient and available to all CWRU students. Don’t be afraid to use it to eplore the area outside University Circle, including cool spots downtown like the Quicken Loans Arena.

The RTA (Regional Transit Authority) pass for students costs $25 and lasts for the entire semester, allowing students to ride both the rails and the buses. Fare for an average adult rider is $2.50. In other words, a student should ride the RTA at least 10 times per semester to make full use of the little silver sticker on their ID.

But honestly, students don’t seem to use the RTA that much.

For many of my peers, the number is significantly less than 10, including the times when they go to and from the airport on the Red Line. Most of my friends and classmates have reported that they used the RTA less than five times this semester, with several of them saying that they have not used the system at all.

Other than the necessary transportation, it really does feel as if there is a bubble between Case Western Reserve University and the rest of Cleveland, as Yingying Cai stated in her opinion piece “Burst out of the bubble.” Despite being within walking distance from East Cleveland and a 30-minute bus ride to downtown, there’s a large separation between CWRU and the rest of Cleveland.

Through the RTA pass, we have the means to bridge this separation. So why don’t we?

Talking with other students revealed that a lot of the hesitation in exploring seems to be unfamiliarity with the system and with the neighborhoods around us. For some students, college may be the first time that they use public transit. The American public transportation system is infamous for its inefficacy when compared with those in Europe or Asia. Instead, the American dream focuses on owning a car, and being able to drive a car is thought of as one of the hallmarks of adulthood. This lack of experience with public transportation can make students hesitant to use the RTA, and they often do not get the chance to explore.

There’s also the matter of destination. While University Circle is relatively safe (provided you don’t walk around with a personal pizza), outside is a different story. East Cleveland has a bad reputation, with more incidences of violent crime than in University Circle. However, that’s not to say everyone there is unfriendly. When I went over to East Cleveland, I accidentally said “Good morning” to a family, when it was actually past noon. The family politely ignored my mistake and said good morning back to me. In all seriousness though, most of the people I have met have been affable, and were pleased to know that a CWRU student was interested in their community.

Besides East Cleveland, there are other fun destinations you can get to with the RTA. Riding the HealthLine can lead you to AsiaTown and Downtown, with Tower City, Quicken Loans Arena and other interesting places that you’ll never see if you just stay inside University Circle.

Another thing that stops students from riding the RTA is the fact they’ll be on a bus with strangers. This point I have to concede; there are suspicious people at times. But it’s easier if you take a friend with you, and most people don’t try to interact with you. The most interaction you’ll have to do is flash the bus driver your pass, or not even that if you take a train.

The last thing I noticed was that people feel that it’s a waste of time to see the rest of Cleveland, especially when they have so much homework and club activities to do. But why would it be a waste of time to explore the area around us? We may only be here for four years, after all.

Expanding our knowledge and sense of community is never a waste.

Won Hee Kim is a second-year English major. She enjoys train rides.