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Cleveland, Ohio: Green and Blue Lines


The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority operates two light-rail lines, the Green and Blue Lines. They run from the South Harbor station on the Lake Erie waterfront, through Tower City (the main station of downtown Cleveland) to the suburb of Shaker Heights. From Tower City to E. 55 St. they share tracks with the Red Line, then diverge from it and follow a grade-separated right-of-way to Shaker Square. East of Shaker Square, they separate. The Green Line runs in the median strip of Shaker Boulevard to Green Road; the Blue Line runs in the median strip of Van Aken Boulevard to Warrensville Center Road. Both lines run mostly at street level east of Shaker Square, and obey traffic signals at intersections. They currently use modern "light rail" cars built in 1980-81 by Breda of Italy. All stations use streetcar-style low-level boarding. Stations that are shared with the Red Line have both high and low platforms to accommodate the two different types of equipment.

The lines from Tower City to Shaker Heights were originally built 1913-1930. Until the 1970s, they were operated separately from Cleveland's other transit lines as the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit. In the early 1980s they were upgraded to modern light-rail standards. The Waterfront Line extension from Tower City to South Harbor opened in 1996.


Tower City to Shaker Square

[picture] The entrance to the Green and Blue Line platforms at Tower City. Facing them is the entrance to the Red Line [picture]. [August 1999]

Tower City is the former Terminal Tower, whose basement housed the Cleveland Union Terminal. In the 1980s the terminal concourse was gutted and completely rebuilt. I was familiar with the old concourse from frequent visits in the 1960s and '70s, so when I arrived there for the first time after renovation, I was completely disoriented!

[picture] The Green and Blue Lines use low-level platforms at Tower City. (This is the eastbound platform for trains to Shaker Heights.) The Red Line, which shares the same tracks, uses a high-level platform at the other end of the station, to the right. Although this looks like a subway station, it's not really underground. The tracks are at ground level near the Cuyahoga River, at what was once the base of the river bluff. Near the river, the Tower City complex was built above thie level; further away from the river, the bluff was probably excavated somewhat. [July 2003]

[picture] | [picture] Two views of of the RTA Central Yard at East 55th Street, which is shared by both the Green/Blue Lines and the Red Line. [June 2000]

[picture] Two trains meet at the Shaker Square station. [June 2000]

[picture] The Green and Blue Lines separate just east of Shaker Square. Here, an eastbound Blue Line train turns onto Van Aken Boulevard. The Green Line continues straight ahead along Shaker Boulevard. [June 2000]

Blue Line, East of Shaker Square

[picture] A westbound train enters the cut that carries the Blue Line underneath Lee Road. This is the only grade-separated intersection on the Blue Line east of Shaker Square. [June 2000]

[picture] This scene between Kenmore and Lynnfield shows the residential nature of Van Aken Boulevard, with its expensive single-family homes. [June 2000]

[picture] An eastbound train crosses the intersection at Lynnfield just before arriving at the station. This is typical of the broad intersections along Van Aken Boulevard. [June 2000]

[picture] A westbound train stops at Lynnfield. The former station building is now a beauty parlor. [June 2000]

[picture] An eastbound train passes between lines of parked cars as it approaches Farnsleigh. Van Aken Boulevard is wide enough to have off-street parking spaces in the median, on both sides of the tracks. [June 2000]

Green Line, East of Shaker Square

[picture] An eastbound train approaches Warrensville. Unlike the median of Van Aken Boulevard, the median of Shaker Boulevard is lined with trees. They have now grown to the point of obstructing the view from the train, and the view of the train from the street. [July 2003]

[picture] A few minutes later, the train shown above has turned around at Green Road and has returned to Warrensville to pick up westbound passengers. [July 2003]

[picture] Between Warrensville Road and Green Road, the the median of Shaker Boulevard is very wide and mostly lined with trees, giving this section of the Green Line a rural atmosphere. At Belvoir, however, the trees have been cleared so that we can see all the way across. [July 2003]

[picture] The Green Road terminal, in a view from the Green Road overpass. [July 2003]

[picture] Just past the Green Road overpass is a loop that was used by the single-ended PCC cars that preceded the Breda LRVs. The double-ended Bredas simply reverse direction on the tail track in the center. Before the line was rebuilt in the 1980s, a row of unused traction poles extended a short distance further, in anticipation of an extension that was never built. [July 2003]

[picture] Interior of a Green Line train. [July 2003]

[picture] Some Green/Blue Line trains are adorned with pictures of famous Clevelanders, such as President James A. Garfield. [July 2003]

Other Stuff

[outside] | [inside] A printed timetable from 1999.

A paper transfer from a dispensing machine at Tower City. I think this is from 1976, shortly after the RTA was formed. Before then, there were no free transfers between the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit and the Cleveland Transit System.

Related Pages

The Waterfront Line.

PCCs of the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit.

This page was last updated on 25 March 2008, and links checked on 27 April 2009.

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