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Blue and Green Lines (Cleveland)


Blue and Green Lines (Cleveland)

     67 Blue: Van Aken
     67A Green: Shaker
A two-car train passes through Shaker Square
Type Light rail
System RTA Rapid Transit
Locale Cleveland and Shaker Heights, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Termini South Harbor (Waterfront Line)
Tower City–Public Square (All)
Warrensville–Van Aken (67 Blue Line)
Green Road (67A Green Line)

34 total:[1]

  • 5 Waterfront (shared)[2]
  • 7 shared (3 with the Red Line)
  • 11 Blue (Van Aken) only
  • 11 Green (Shaker) only

2 lines:[2]

  • Blue (67: Van Aken)
  • Green (67A: Shaker)
Daily ridership 12,400 (weekdays)
Ridership 2,855,800 (annually, 2012)[3]
Opened December 17, 1913[4]
Owner Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Operator(s) Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Rolling stock 48[1]
Line length 15.3 miles (24.6 km)[1]
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification Overhead catenary,
600 Volts DC[5]
Route map
South Harbor
East 9th–North Coast
Amtrak(by request)
West 3rd–Stadium
NS Cleveland
Terminal Subdivision
Flats East Bank
Settlers Landing
 Red Line  to Airport
Tower City–Public Square
East 34th–Campus
East 55th
 Red Line  to Stokes–Windermere
East 79th
East 116th
Shaker Square
 Blue Line 
 Green Line 
Shaker Heights
S. Woodland
Nature Center at South Park
Van Aken–Lee
West Green
Warrensville–Van Aken
Green Road

The Blue Line, Green Line, and Waterfront Line are the interurban/light rail component of the RTA Rapid Transit, a rapid transit rail system in greater Cleveland and Shaker Heights, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority numbers them as Route 67 (Blue) and Route 67A (Green). The lines are also referred to by the respective boulevards that they travel on: the Van Aken Line (Blue) and the Shaker Line (Green). The system dates to 1913,[4] making it one of the few surviving American "light rail" systems of the original streetcar era during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


  • Route description 1
    • Waterfront Line 1.1
    • "Interurban" portion 1.2
    • Suburban portion 1.3
    • Future extensions 1.4
  • History 2
    • Cleveland Interurban Railroad 2.1
    • Shaker Heights Rapid Transit 2.2
    • RTA takeover 2.3
    • Extension to the waterfront 2.4
  • Fare collection 3
  • Schedule 4
  • Rolling stock 5
  • Stations 6
  • References 7
    • Notes 7.1
  • External links 8

Route description

Waterfront Line

The first 2.2 miles (3.5 km) of both lines is designated the Waterfront Line as it travels near the shoreline of Lake Erie and the east bank of the Cuyahoga River. The northernmost terminus is South Harbor located adjacent to the Municipal Parking lot. The lines extend generally west-southwest directly adjacent to the former Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway and New York Central Railroad tracks now used by the Norfolk Southern and Amtrak, with stations at East 9th Street (North Coast station adjacent to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) and West 3rd Street (adjacent to First Energy Stadium). Between these stations, trains will stop at Cleveland's Amtrak station upon request.

The line then contains a large loop allowing it to turn from west-southwest to south-southeast, cross over the CSX tracks and travel along the east bank of The Flats. There are two stations in The Flats, Flats East Bank and Settlers Landing. In The Flats are three grade crossings, the only ones west of Shaker Square.

The line then turns east and climbs up from The Flats in two cuts on either side of the Red Line. It merges onto the Red Line tracks and travels through Tower City station. The Blue and Green Lines use the eastern end of the Tower City station where two low-level island platforms are provided. Tower City marks the end of the portion designated as the Waterfront Line.

From April 2010 through May 2013, RTA completely eliminated weekday regularly scheduled Waterfront Line service due to low ridership and trains ran on the line only on weekends and for special events. Though seven-day-a-week service on the line was restored, a number of trains continue to use Tower City as a western terminus.

Tower City is the major station on all RTA Rapid Transit lines. It is the main station serving downtown Cleveland and it provides a convenient transfer point between the Red Line and the Blue and Green Lines.

"Interurban" portion

From Tower City to just east of East 55th Street, the Blue and Green Lines share track with the Red Line for 2.6 miles (4.2 km) along a private right-of-way originally acquired in 1930 to bring intercity trains into Cleveland Union Terminal (the site of today's Tower City Center). The East 34th–Campus station and the East 55th station are shared by the heavy rail rapid transit Red Line and the light rail Blue and Green Lines, an arrangement unique in North American rail transit. The shared stations have low platforms for the Blue and Green Lines directly adjacent to high platforms for the Red Line. RTA Central Rail yards and headquarters are located at the East 55th station, where trains of all rail lines are stored and serviced.

East of East 55th, the Blue and Green Lines split from the Red Line and travel east on a separate, dedicated, grade separated right-of way. A complex of tunnels existed at this junction to provide means for the Blue and Green Line trains to switch from right to left side running from East 55th to Tower City, but right side running is now used throughout the system, and the tunnels have been closed.

The private right of way extends from this junction to Woodhill Road at the western end of Shaker Boulevard and then below grade through an excavated cut in the median of Shaker Boulevard to Shaker Square. Along this portion of the lines are East 79th station, Woodhill station and East 116th Station. The lines then rise to street level at Shaker Square.

Suburban portion

From Shaker Square eastward, both lines enter Shaker Heights and operate at street level with grade crossings, reflecting this portion of the lines' history as streetcar lines. The Blue and Green Lines separate from each other just east of Shaker Square at , with the Blue Line extending southeast in the median of Van Aken Boulevard and the Green Line continuing east in the median of Shaker Boulevard. The station-stops east of Shaker Square on both lines are adjacent to street intersections and most comprise merely concrete platforms with simple shelters. Both lines have grade crossings in this area, except for the Blue Line at Lee Road where the line descends into an excavated cut and under a bridge carrying Lee Road over the tracks and the Green Line from Warrensville Road eastward. The central median of Shaker Boulevard expands at Warrensville Road—it was originally planned for a high-speed parkway—and the Green Line continues along this median with Warrensville Road crossing on a bridge overhead. There is also a bridge at Green Road, although the station is actually just west of the bridge and only layover tracks extend beneath the bridge.

The Blue Line terminates at Warrensville Road and Van Aken Boulevard, and the Green Line terminates at Green Road and Shaker Boulevard.

Future extensions

Plans have been drawn up to loop the Waterfront Line back through downtown to Tower City along city streets, but it seems unlikely to move forward in the near future. With the completion of the HealthLine project, a new heavy rail line has been proposed that will connect Rocky River and Euclid. There has also been a proposal to extend the Waterfront line, from the current South Harbor (municipal parking lot at East 14th Street) eastward along the lakefront, to the Glenville or Collinwood neighborhoods or to Euclid or beyond. This eastward expansion is still a part of the Cleveland Planning Commission's Lakefront Development proposal.

An additional station on the Waterfront Line section that loops over the NS tracks, is a part of nearly every plan for that area. Initially the Cleveland World Trade Center would have had the station in the lobby of the facility, then the Eaton Corp headquarters, but neither project was built. Currently the announced Lakefront Redevelopment plan has the proposed station as an integral part.[6]


The Blue and Green Lines are the direct, continuously operating descendants of the privately owned Cleveland Interurban Railroad and later the municipally owned Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, built as streetcar lines to connect the streetcar suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio to downtown Cleveland. These lines were the only ones to survive the bustitution of Cleveland's transit system, partly due to their use of grade-separated trackage to across much of the east side of Cleveland.

Cleveland Interurban Railroad

A PCC streetcar train on the Blue Line Rapid along Van Aken Boulevard at the Lynnfield station.

The Shaker Heights was incorporated, and two years later on December 17, 1913 the first section of the CIRR opened, 1.6 miles (2.6 km) from Coventry Road east down the median of the future Shaker Boulevard (then part of Coventry Road) to Fontenay Road (west of Eaton Road). The line connected to downtown Cleveland via a line along Coventry Road to the north to an existing streetcar line on Fairmount Boulevard in Cleveland Heights. On May 20, 1915 the eastern terminus was extended from Fontenay Road to Courtland Boulevard.

As construction progressed in Shaker Heights, the Van Sweringens realized that the connection to Cleveland Railway's streetcar system through Cleveland Heights resulted in a slow trip to downtown. They planned for a grade-separated right-of-way all the way to downtown that could significantly reduce travel times for commuters, and thus increase the desirability of their suburb. In 1915 they acquired a majority interest in the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (the Nickel Plate Road), mainly to allow for a line next to a relocated NYC&StL. The next section of CIRR opened in April 1920, running west from Coventry Road down the median of the new Shaker Boulevard to Woodhill Road, then across the Cleveland Short Line Railway (New York Central Railroad) and alongside a CSL branch to East 55th Street. West of East 55th Street, where the CSL branch crossed over the parallel Nickel Plate, the new streetcar line also crossed the Nickel Plate, continuing west between the branch and Nickel Plate, then up a ramp to the intersection of the Kingsbury Viaduct (East 34th Street) and Broadway. From there, the CIRR cars traveled along the tracks of Cleveland Railway's Broadway line, using street-running for the remainder of the trip downtown.

Also in April 1920 a branch line was opened to the south and east of what was Moreland Circle (today, Shaker Square). This line split from the other line at Shaker Square and ran southeast down the median of Moreland (later renamed Van Aken) Boulevard to Lynnfield Road. In 1928, the Shaker Boulevard line was extended east from Courtland Boulevard to Warrensville Center Road.

As the Van Sweringens' railroad plans grew, they constructed a new Union Terminal for Cleveland. Cleveland Union Terminal (CUT) opened in 1930, along with a new grade-separated right-of-way with side-by-side lines for steam railroads and interurban streetcars, including the CIRR. Although their plans for another interurban line never materialized (the right-of-way was later used for the Red Line), the CIRR immediately began operations via the new right-of-way into the north part of CUT specially reserved for interurban train service. The CIRR no longer needed to run on city streetcar tracks and the ramp to Broadway and East 34th Street was removed. The first CIRR trains rolled into CUT on July 20. On the same day, the Moreland or Van Aken line was extended to its present terminus at Warrensville Road. A further extension of the Shaker Boulevard line moved the eastern terminus to Green Road in 1936.[7]

Shaker Heights Rapid Transit

On September 6, 1944, the City of Shaker Heights took over the financially struggling lines and began operating them as Shaker Heights Rapid Transit. The city lacked funds for major line extensions. However, it did modernize the fleet with the purchase of PCC cars beginning in 1947.

In 1955 the Cleveland Transit System (which was formed in 1942 when the City of Cleveland took over the Cleveland Railway Company) opened the first section of the city's new rapid transit line, now known as the Red Line. It used much of the right-of-way and some of the catenary poles from the Van Sweringen's planned east-west interurban line adjacent to the NYC&StL tracks. The first section of the CTS rapid transit east from Cleveland Union Terminal included 2.6 miles (4.2 km) and two stations shared with the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit line, necessitating split platforms with low-level sections (for Shaker Heights rapid transit cars) and high-level sections (for CTS rapid transit cars).

RTA takeover

West 3rd Street station (circular structure in foreground)

By the 1970s the City of Shaker Heights was struggling to maintain the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit and in Cleveland, CTS was facing financial problems with its rapid transit and bus system. Significant federal money was available, but only if a regional transit system was formed. In 1974, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (or RTA) was organized to take over the municipal transit system in Cleveland and others throughout Cuyahoga County. Voters approved a county-wide sales tax increase to help subsidize the transit system and RTA officially took over the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit lines on July 14, 1975. In September 1979, RTA adopted a new designation for the rapid transit lines. The old CTS Rapid Transit became the Red Line and the Shaker Rapid Transit lines became the Green and Blue Lines.

In 1980, RTA undertook a complete renovation of the Green and Blue Lines, with new track, ballast, poles and overhead wiring. Existing stations were demolished and new stations constructed. The project necessitated closing the Green Line east of Shaker Square for most of the summer of 1980 and the Blue Line east of Shaker Square for most of the summer of 1981, with substitute bus shuttles and single-tracking along the remainder of the line from East 55th Street to Shaker Square. To run on the renovated lines, a fleet of new LRVs were purchased from an Italian firm, Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie, to replace the aging PCC cars. The new lines were dedicated on October 30, 1981.

Extension to the waterfront

In 1996, the Blue and Green Lines were extended for the first time in 60 years as the lines were extended through downtown into a new section, called the Waterfront Line, connecting Tower City to the North Coast Harbor area. The Waterfront Line opened on July 10, 1996.

Fare collection

Effective September 1, 2009, the one-way cash fare on the RTA Rapid Transit is $2.25. A five-trip fare card can be purchased for $11.25. An All-Day pass, allowing unlimited riding on the rapid transit as well as on RTA buses, is $5.00 ($2.50 for children). Weekly and monthly passes are also available, and there are discounted fares for seniors and the disabled. Fares for senior/disabled with green or blue disability id card are; one-way $1.00, All Day $2.50, 5-day $5.00 and Monthly at $38.00. Passengers with Yellow senior/disabled id cards ride free of charge.

Fares are paid upon entering when traveling eastbound (southbound on the Waterfront Line) and upon leaving when traveling westbound (northbound on the Waterfront Line). Fares are collected on board the train except at Tower City Station, where they are collected at faregates entering or leaving the station. Certain other stations, notably those on the Waterfront Line, have facilities for collecting fares, but those facilities are not used except during special events, such as during Cleveland Browns games at West 3rd Street Station.


Blue and Green Line trains operate from approximately 3:40 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily. On weekdays, each line operates every 10 minutes during rush hour and every 30 minutes at other times. Service between Tower City and Shaker Square operates every 5 minutes during rush hour and every 15 minutes at other times. Service on the Waterfront Line is limited to approximately every three westbound trains from 6:35 a.m. to 8:50 a.m. and again from 3:35 p.m. through 7:20 p.m. Between 8:50 a.m. and 3:35 p.m. and again between 7:20 p.m. and 10:20 p.m., all westbound trains travel along the Waterfront Line. No Waterfront Line service is provided between 10:45 p.m. and 6:35 a.m.

On weekends, each line operates every 30 minutes. Service between Tower City and Shaker Square operates every 15 minutes and all westbound trains from 9:20 a.m. through 10:20 p.m. operate on the Waterfront Line.

Rolling stock

Year Make Model Length mm /( in) Width mm /( in) Gauge Numbers
1980–1981 Breda LRV 23,504 mm (925.35 in) 2,818 mm (110.94 in) 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge / 1,435 m 48
Light rail vehicle on the Waterfront Line

The Blue and Green Lines use a fleet of 48 light rail vehicles (LRVs) manufactured by Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie in 1980 and 1981. Each car is 77.13 feet (23,509 mm) long, 11.32 feet (3,450 mm) high, and 9.3 feet (2,835 mm) wide and is articulated with operator cabs at each end, seating 84 passengers in 42 double transverse seats. The units are numbered 801–848.[8] RTA needs 34 of the cars for regular use, and requires only 17 to operate currently scheduled service.[9]

The cars originally had white exteriors with broad orange and red stripes, and an interior finished in earth tones with faux wood paneling and orange and brown vinyl padded seats. With the opening of the Waterfront Line in 1996, RTA renovated five cars with blue and white exteriors, gray interiors with new gray and blue fabric-covered seats, and portraits of famous Clevelanders.

The fleet is over 25 years old, and RTA is currently renovating up to 34 cars with the hope of making them last for another 15 years. The renovated cars have silver exteriors with blue and red stripes, and gray and silver interiors with blue and red seats.

The Breda LRV cars replaced a fleet of PCC cars, some built for the Shaker Rapid Transit in 1947 and some purchased in 1953 and 1959.


Station[10][11] Time to
Tower City[11]
Date opened Date rebuilt Connections / notes[10][11][2]
Waterfront Line
          South Harbor Handicapped/disabled access 9 min July 10, 1996[4] Bus transport RTA Bus: NineTwelve Trolley
          East 9th–North Coast Handicapped/disabled access 8 min July 10, 1996[4] Bus transport RTA Bus: NineTwelve and L-Line Trolleys
          Amtrak (on request) 7 min June 29, 1977 Amtrak: Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited
          West 3rd–Stadium Handicapped/disabled access 6 min August 12, 1999[4] FirstEnergy Stadium
          Flats East Bank Handicapped/disabled access 4 min July 10, 1996[4]
          Settlers Landing Handicapped/disabled access 3 min July 10, 1996[4]
Red Line converges
Blue and Green Lines
          Tower City–Public Square Handicapped/disabled access July 20, 1930 December 17, 1990[4] RTA Rapid Transit: Red Line
Bus transport RTA Rapid Transit: HealthLine
Bus transport RTA Bus: B-Line, C-Line, E-Line, and L-Line Trolleys; 1, 3, 8, 11, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 35, 38, 39 / 39F, 45 / 45A, 51, 55A–B–C, 76, 77F, 79A–B, 81, 90F, 135, 239, 246, 251, 263
          East 34th–Campus 3 min July 10, 1930[7] August 18, 2003 RTA Rapid Transit: Red Line
Bus transport RTA Bus: 15, 19, 76
          East 55th Handicapped/disabled access Parking available 6 min April 11, 1920[7] October 11, 2011[12] RTA Rapid Transit: Red Line
Bus transport RTA Bus: 16
Red Line diverges
          East 79th 9 min April 11, 1920[7] October 30, 1981[7] Bus transport RTA Bus: 2
          Buckeye–Woodhill Handicapped/disabled access Parking available 11 min April 11, 1920[7] October 30, 1981[7]
October 23, 2012
Bus transport RTA Bus: 10, 11
          East 116th 13 min April 11, 1920[7] October 30, 1981[7] Bus transport RTA Bus: 58
          Shaker Square Handicapped/disabled access 15 min April 11, 1920[7] July 1986[7]
September 20, 2006
Bus transport RTA Bus: 11, 48 / 48A
Originally named Moreland Circle
Blue and Green Lines diverge
Blue Line (via Van Aken Boulevard)
     Drexmore Parking available 17 min January 1948[7] October 30, 1981[7]
     South Woodland Parking available 18 min April 11, 1920[7] October 30, 1981[7]
     Southington Parking available 19 min April 11, 1920[7] October 30, 1981[7]
     Onaway Parking available 20 min April 11, 1920[7] October 30, 1981[7]
     Ashby Parking available 21 min April 11, 1920[7] October 30, 1981[7]
     Van Aken–Lee 23 min April 11, 1920[7] October 30, 1981[7] Bus transport RTA Bus: 14, 37, 40
     Avalon Parking available 25 min April 11, 1920[7] October 30, 1981[7]
     Kenmore Parking available 26 min April 11, 1920[7] October 30, 1981[7]
     Lynnfield Parking available 27 min April 11, 1920[7] October 30, 1981[7]
     Farnsleigh Parking available 28 min July 30, 1930[7] October 30, 1981[7]
     Warrensville–Van Aken Handicapped/disabled access 29 min July 30, 1930[7] October 30, 1981[7] Bus transport RTA Bus: 5, 14, 41 / 41F
Green Line (via Shaker Boulevard)
     Coventry 17 min December 17, 1913[7] October 11, 1980[7]
     Southington 18 min December 17, 1913[7] October 11, 1980[7]
     South Park–Nature Center 20 min December 17, 1913[7] October 11, 1980[7]
     Shaker–Lee 21 min December 17, 1913[7] October 11, 1980[7] Bus transport RTA Bus: 37, 40
     Attleboro 22 min December 17, 1913[7] October 11, 1980[7]
     Eaton 23 min May 20, 1915[7] October 11, 1980[7]
     Courtland 24 min May 20, 1915[7] October 11, 1980[7]
     Warrensville–Shaker Parking available 25 min 1928[7] October 11, 1980[7] Bus transport RTA Bus: 41
     Belvoir 26 min 1936[7] October 11, 1980[7]
     West Green Parking available 27 min 1936[7] October 11, 1980[7]
     Green Road Handicapped/disabled access Parking available 28 min 1936[7] October 11, 1980[7]
Bus transport RTA Bus: 34, 94


  1. ^ a b c "2012 Annual Report - Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority". Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. December 31, 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-21. 
  2. ^ a b c "RTA Rapid Transit & Connecting Bus Routes - System Map" (PDF). Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  3. ^ "APTA - Transit Ridership Report - Fourth Quarter 2012 - Light Rail" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. March 1, 2013. p. 3-4. Retrieved July 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "History of public transit in Greater Cleveland".  
  5. ^ "Catalog of "Common Use" Rail Corridors" ( 
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc Toman, James (1990). The Shaker Heights Rapid Transit.  
  8. ^ For time, there was a car 849 after one end each of 818 and 840 were damaged in a collision at the RTA yard. 849 was the front half of 840 and the rear half of 818. These combination was later renumbered 840 while the front half of 818 and the rear half of 840 became 818. Source: "Cleveland's Rapid Transit Vehicles" by James Toman and Blaine Hayes, Kent State University Press, 1996.
  9. ^ Exner, Rich (June 3, 2005). "Rebuild is anything but rapid RTA’s first Breda-car renovations: over budget and behind schedule".  
  10. ^ a b c "Green Line (Shaker) / Blue Line (Van Aken)" (PDF).  
  11. ^ a b c d "Major Stations".  
  12. ^ "New E. 55th Rapid Station official grand opening".  


  • Demery, Jr., Leroy W. (October 18, 2005). "U.S. Urban Rail Transit Lines Opened From 1980" ( 
  • Bell, Jon. "Cleveland, Ohio: Shaker Heights Rapid Transit". 
  • " - Cleveland, Ohio". 
  • Rails and "Historic Transportation Maps" . 
  • Van Tassel, David D.; Grabowski, John J., eds. (1996). "Shaker Heights Rapid Transit". The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (2nd ed.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.  

External links

  • Routes - Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority - Rail
  • Jon Bell - Cleveland, Ohio: Green and Blue Lines
  • Jon Bell - Cleveland, Ohio: The Waterfront Line
  • Northern Ohio Railway Museum
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