Joe Calabrese leaves Regional Transit Authority 11 months sooner than planned


CLEVELAND, Ohio—Joseph Calabrese, 18-year general manager of the Regional Transit Authority, is leaving his current post as a part-time senior advisor 11 months earlier than previously planned.

Joe Calabrese is leaving the Regional Transit Authority after 18 years as general manager and seven months as senior advisor.

Joe Calabrese is leaving the Regional Transit Authority after 18 years as general manager and seven months as senior advisor.

Calabrese will leave at the month’s end to become a senior advisor for Focused Technology Solutions, a New Jersey company providing transit supplies and training.

As RTA’s general manager and chief executive officer, he won many awards for bringing about the HealthLine, the MetroHealth Line, the downtown trolley, new stations, new tracks and more efficient fuels. But in recent years fares rose, ridership slumped and state aid plummeted.

Last March, Calabrese fired 10 workers for their alleged role in a nationwide scandal involving phony prescription claims. Then long-time RTA Board President George Dixon III departed amid accusations still under investigation of owing more than $1.1 million for underpaying his healthcare premiums, getting undeserved healthcare benefits and making personal use of a transit authority cell phone.

The board voted to make Calabrese a senior advisor full-time from September through February, then part-time through next February, when he’d already planned to retire. He was currently making about $133.17 per hour.

As of last August, he was owed $295,521 for unused sick and vacation days and stood to earn a little more before departing. Word was not available today as to whether he has received any of that money yet.

Calabrese, 66, of Westlake, could not be reached today for comment. In August, he said of his transition, “It’s a wonderful win-win scenario.” He said RTA would benefit awhile from the work both of a new leader and an old one.

Rev. Charles Lucas, RTA’s vice president, said of Calabrese, “He gave many good years to the system. We have been extremely proud of his stewardship.”

But Lucas said Calabrese leaves RTA in good hands: those of Floun’say Caver, interim general manager. “He’s done an excellent job.”

The board hopes to hire a permanent leader soon. It is also getting results from several independent studies of operations, bus routes, rail cars, funding strategies and more.

Focused Technology Solutions provides railway measuring devices, third rail covers, spike removal tools and more. Peter Bartek, the company’s president, on Saturday confirmed Calabrese’s pending arrival but declined to say more about the newcomer’s duties.

Calabrese is past president of the Ohio Public Transit Association and the Metropolitan Rail Discussion Group. He is now a trustee of the American Public Transportation Association.



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