The Rapid Silver Line

UPDATE: Trainwreck: The Rapid Silver Line leads to falling ridership, rising deficits

As we gather more facts on the proposed $50 million Rapid Silver Line bus route, we will be posting them here, so that the public can make an informed decision on the upcoming millage request on May 3rd. Stay tuned for more updates.

Rapid Silver Line Fast Facts: (click here for a printable version)

  • The Silver Line’s proposed route would take 35 minutes to travel 9.8 miles (approx. 16.8 mph), largely duplicating the existing bus Route #1.
  • The current bus Route #1 travels about 8.3 miles in 33 minutes (approx. 15 mph).
  • The Rapid claims that the Silver Line would get passengers to the Medical Mile in about 27 minutes from 60th street and Division.
  • We requested a copy of the proposed timetable for the Silver Line to verify their travel time claims, and their email response was “We’ve not yet developed a specific timetable.”
  • The Silver Line will close two lanes of Division most of the way between 60th Street and Wealthy Street during rush hour, compounding congestion problems dramatically. Monroe and Michigan downtown will also become one lane roads, creating congestion nightmares. The Rapid’s Silver Line environmental assessment states:

    The [Bus Rapid Transit] vehicles would run in the existing travel lanes closest to the curb in each direction with 10-minute headways in peak hours and 15-minute headways in off-peak hours. During peak hours, portions of the bus travel lanes would be exclusively for transit use. Only right-turn general traffic at intersections or the various driveways along Division Avenue would be allowed to utilize this lane in the immediate area of their turn. Outside of peak hours, the transit vehicles would travel in mixed traffic.

  • The Silver Line Environmental Assessment anticipates a “fail” level of congestion at the following intersections as a result of the proposed Traffic Signal Priority:
    • Franklin and Division
    • Burton and Division
    • 28th and Division
    • 44th and Division
    • 48th and Division
    • 54th and Division
  • View slides of the entire Silver Line route here, showing the dedicated and shared lanes.
  • Because of this congestion fail, the Silver Line’s proposed Traffic Signal Priority will be disabled at these major intersections, resulting in limited speed benefit. This means that the “high speed” buses will have to wait for green lights, just like the rest of the traffic.
  • Two years after opening for business, Cleveland’s BRT line is still running much slower than it was advertised: “A westbound bus ride during weekday mornings and evening rush hours along the 7.1-mile corridor averaged 44 minutes instead of the 33 minutes it is supposed to take, according to the latest data provided by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority for the first three months of this year.” [1]
  • Capital costs to build the Silver Line are projected to be about $40 million, with $2.4 million more per year for operating costs.
  • The Silver Line is proposed to consist of hybrid-electric buses, which cost taxpayers an additional $200,000 each and result in limited environmental and efficiency benefit. Mayor Heartwell admitted that these hybrid buses are largely symbolic: “If for no other reason than the important symbolic benefit of having buses around downtown that say ‘hybrid,’ it’s an investment worth making.”[2]  Is this a legitimate reason to spend at least $2 million extra of taxpayer money on buses?
  • This proposed transit line was rejected by voters in 2009, yet the unelected board of The Rapid has now more than doubled the requested tax increase and is now purposely downplaying the importance of the Silver Line to this millage issue. It appears as though about a third of the millage issue will be to operate the Silver Line.
  • The biggest question of all: Why not just adjust the current #1 Bus Route to go through the medical mile and save taxpayers at least $50 million?

Other Materials

  • Printout of the former “” web site showing expected Silver Line transit time of 35 minutes for the entire route. This information has been removed from The Rapid’s new web site at
  • Below is a comparison of the existing bus route #1 (in red) to the proposed Rapid Silver Line Route (in blue). Is this worth more than $40 million?

View Rapid Silver Line Comparison in a larger map
Environmental Impact Assessment of the Rapid Silver Line