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Cleveland offered Amazon bus fare discount, old building in ‘lame’ HQ2 bid |

Cleveland offered Amazon bus fare discount, old building in ‘lame’ HQ2 bid

Mark Duncan/AP
The Cleveland skyline taken from Edgewater Park in Cleveland.
Mark Duncan/AP
The Cleveland skyline taken from Edgewater Park in Cleveland.

Cleveland dangled discounted bus fares in front of Amazon as part of its failed bid to attract the company’s second headquarters.

The city was willing to offer Amazon employees 25 percent off rides on Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority buses and trains, according to a report from .

Cleveland also thought its 52-story Terminal Tower, the second-tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1930, and the nearby Post Office Plaza, the former home of the city’s central post office, would be great homes for Amazon HQ2.’s editorial board took aim at city leaders who put together the bid. Cleveland did not make Amazon’s 20-city shortlist for its second headquarters. Columbus, about 150 miles southwest of Cleveland, did.

“Their bid to stuff Amazon’s second headquarters into a 91-year-old skyscraper and nearby nondescript building was that lame,” an editorial stated . “It was that unimaginative. It was that out of touch with what a 21st-century tech company wants and needs in a locale.”

It is unknown if Pittsburgh offered any sort of similar incentives to Amazon in its bid. Officials who worked on the bid have not shared any of the details.

Adam Brandolph, a spokesman for Port Authority of Allegheny County, said he could not comment on whether similar incentives were offered in Pittsburgh’s bid because the agency did not prepare the bid.

Port Authority does not have agreements with any private companies in Allegheny County to offer discounted rides, Brandolph said. The agency does partner with some of the area’s universities to offer discounts and free rides.

University of Pittsburgh students can ride Port Authority buses and trains for free with their student IDs. Pitt pays Port Authority $1.25 each time a card is used.

It appears Amazon is putting a priority on public transit systems as it makes it HQ2 choice. The company asked about access to transit when it visited Pittsburgh, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told the Tribune-Review. learned about the buildings, the bus and train fare discounts and promises to Amazon to triple the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s capacity by 2029 in documents released by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency in response to a public record request. The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency is a publicly funded transportation planning group that worked on city’s bid. The documents did not disclose what tax incentives the city offered Amazon.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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