I was able to ride the entire rail portion of the Cleveland RTA system excluding the Waterfront Line (plus the new bus rapid transit Health Line) during a recent work trip to Cleveland; actually, I did not rent a car and only used transit and my legs during my trip. (Obviously, I came into Cleveland from the airport via rail transit. Also, I did not use the Waterfront Line because it currently only operates on weekends.) The Red Line (a heavy rail line) typically runs with 2 car trains, though those the cars are pretty long, probably almost as long as WMATA's rail cars. Because the line was built entirely along freight rail ROW (though uses separate tracks), the stations in some cases are not ideally located; the freight rail lines function as a barrier between nearby residential/commercial development and the Red Line, especially near Cleveland's popular University Circle on the eastern end of the line. The Blue and Green Lines (both light rail lines) coincide with one another between downtown Cleveland and Shaker Square, and then run parallel with one another east-west of Shaker Square, roughly a mile apart. The light rail cars, which unlike the heavy rail cars were pretty new, appear to always or almost always run as single cars. Between downtown and Shaker Square (or more accurately between where the Red and Blue/Green Lines split from one another and Shaker Square), the lines run in their own ROW and east of Shaker Square both lines run in the center, grassy medians of wide boulevards. As has been noted previously in this thread, the Red and Blue/Green Lines share track for at least 2-3 miles of track and 3 shared stations, 2 of which (East 34th-Campus and East 55th) have distinct, adjacent platforms to serve the trains - high platforms for the Red Line, low platforms for the Blue and Green Lines. The third shared station, Tower City, is amazingly the only true downtown station in the RTA rail system excluding the Waterfront Line stations and obviously is by far the busiest rail station in the system. It is in the basement level of the confusingly-designed Tower City complex, which essentially is a downtown city mall that also contains a pair of hotels and the historic Terminal Tower.
Both the Red Line and Blue/Green Lines were very interesting. The Red Line, even though it is heavy rail transit, reminded me of portions of SEPTA's Regional Rail more than anything else, which makes some sense considering the line operates in a freight rail corridor and also utilizes overhead catenary. The cars had a spot near the front of the car to place your luggage, which was a nice touch. The airport station, the western terminus of the line, to me looked a lot like a much smaller, simpler version of the Chicago CTA Blue Line O'Hare Airport station (though because Cleveland Hopkins is a much smaller airport than Chicago O'Hare, the airport station is much closer to the terminal in Cleveland than it is in Chicago). The Blue/Green Lines, especially east of Shaker Square, also reminded me of some SEPTA rail lines, specifically the Route 100 (former P&W) Norristown High Speed Line and the Route 101 and 102 trolleys west and southwest of Philadelphia. The primary highlight of these lines was Shaker Square itself, which is one of the best examples in existence of historic transit-oriented design. Also interesting was the setting of both lines east of Shaker Square, especially the Green Line; the development nearby was relatively low density and consisted of housing with very nice, older-style architecture. The Blue Line also had predominantly nicer residential development near the line but also had some limited commercial development, and it terminates near a shopping center. Many stations along both lines, especially the Blue Line, also had small park-and-ride lots composed of angled parking on both sides of the line on the inside of the adjacent boulevard roadways.
During my trip I rode all three lines essentially during the PM rush hour and early evening, and it appeared all three lines had pretty solid ridership. That fact is actually surprising because parking in downtown Cleveland appeared to be plentiful and fairly cheap and RTA fares, due to recession-related budget shortfalls, are fairly high. (As an aside, my biggest criticism of downtown Cleveland is that it appeared to have too many surface parking lots.)
2009 Phillies/Yankees World Series - aka the Acela Series