Navigating the RTA HealthLine
Thursday, March 03, 2011
As an Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist at Cleveland Sight Center, I have had quite a few O&M lessons with clients learning how to use the (somewhat) new RTA HealthLine. From this capacity, I would like to share some observations with you.
For those who don’t know, the HealthLine is the bus line that runs up and down Euclid Avenue. If one is heading east, it runs from Public Square past the Cleveland Clinic. At Stokes Blvd. (just past E. 107th St.), one line goes to University Circle Rapid Station and the other to Windermere Rapid Station. The HealthLine took the place of the old RTA # 6/6A bus lines.
The bus itself is not shaped like a regular bus; it is double the length, with an accordion-like middle section and entrances on both sides. It might be helpful to think of the HealthLine as a combination of a bus and a light rail train. There are platforms. A bell clangs before take-off. There’s not the usual contact with the driver. The bus stops are actually called “stations.”
Many clients have had questions or concerns about using the HealthLine. Here are some reasons why:
(1) Most of the bus stations are in the middle of Euclid Avenue (between Public Square and E. 107th St.) with traffic on both sides.
(2) There is a fear of falling because the bus stations are located on elevated platforms about two-feet high.
(3) When standing at the station, the sound of traffic is on both sides of you, which can be disorienting.
Despite these changes from the regular RTA bus system, there are some
advantages to learning to use the HealthLine, including:
(1) It’s speedier than regular buses. This is because it is based on the “honor system” and a rider is not required to show the bus driver a bus pass when getting on or off; but rider beware: randomly, transit police patrol the bus asking riders to show their passes, and if you don’t have one, it’s off with you at the next station, and a possible $75 dollar fine.
(2) The ride and seats are comfortable.
(3) The layout of the elevated bus stations is identical, so if you learn one, you learn them all.
(4) The HealthLine bus stations are equipped with auditory and vibrating crosswalk signals to make it safer to determine when to cross the street.
So, although this bus line is new and can take time to learn, the HealthLine can be a valuable tool for the Cleveland area traveler with vision loss.