Save RIPTA

For all my voting life I have been pulling the lever for transportation bonds that put big bucks into highways. I do it to authorize the pocket change for public transit included in the small print.

Being both a car owner and bus rider I say it’s time to balance the funding and build up RIPTA.

Fuel costs, congestion and a tough economy make convenient and accessible bus service a good choice for commuting to work. If drivers spend less time in traffic jams that’s a plus for our economy and air quality.

RIDE transports Rhode Islanders who use wheelchairs to essential doctor’s appointments. Without RIDE, private ambulances would have fill that need, at a much higher cost to taxpayers. We save a lot with wise use of public services.

Our aging citizens are afraid to give up driving– even when they don’t feel safe– because they have no good alternative. We need more public transit, and will continue to need an increase year by year.

I was downtown last week, waiting 40 minutes for the #42 Hope Street— a busy route. It reminded me that every cut to numbers of runs leaves people waiting longer. For someone who takes the bus every day to work that’s a bite of their time, an example of how cuts are a tax.

Advocates for RIPTA are meeting at the State House this Wednesday, 8/17. You can get details here…
Save RIPTA Blogspot

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11 responses

  1. Good,but let’s not invest in more buses-streetcars and trackless trolleys are capital investments that will last decades,don’t pollute at point of service,run better in bad weather,and at least in thec ase of trackless trolleys,are noiseless.
    We already have wires overhead-what’s a few more?
    maybe renovate the old Red Bridge and East Side tunnel to make a streetcar “subway’line from the East Bay to Providence.
    There’s room for a big Park’N Ride in East Providence.
    We did this type of stuff almost overnight in the early 20th century-and it would provide a lot of jobs.
    It could be run by a private sector corporation if the tax details were inviting-sorry,I don’t trust RI public officials to do anything on the straight or competently.

    1. I appreciate your support of public transit. Some of the nurse’s aides I worked with on the evening shift got out at midnight and had to wait for the bus home. I gave some rides, but these women should not have to be standing out at the bus stop for too long.
      A trickle-up effect is that the money they saved on maintaining a car was probably spent at the grocery store, and their good work helped many elderly, sick people who had to stay in the nursing home.
      I think they all deserved a raise, but nice if they did not have to spend it to repair an old car and fill the tank.

      1. When I lived in NYC and Chicago,I found that having a car was no big deal.especially if,in NYC I was going into Manhattan-a car was actually a hindrance-where to park?
        A car was ok for going to more remote sections of Queens,Brooklyn,the Bronx,and Staten Island when necessary.
        Commercial areas of all boroughs were well served by public transit.
        Chicago was really well covered by the rapid transit system.
        Philadelphia has a ghood system.
        When I was in Toronto in 1987 I noticed comparatively little mootor vehicle,particularly downtown,which was honeycombed with streetcar and tarckless trolley lines.The trackless trolley lines are gone now(??)but the streetcars remain.

  2. But you drive on the public highways?

    1. Who were you asking this of? I drive on public roads,of course.So do you.You point?I don’t see the relevance of the question-public transportation is a necessity no matter how many people drive.

  3. I am all for public transportation. But having said that no one has made mention of the rather large pay increase the ripta union just recently got. Or the abuse of overtime pay. No one is talking about any of that.

  4. I looked for an article about the RIPTA contract and found this, December 2010, Providence Journal–

    PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority has settled a new contract with its bus drivers that will cost the authority a total of $7.5 million over the next three years, RIPTA Board Chairman John Rupp said Monday.

    The contract with its biggest union, Local 618 of the Amalgamated Transit Union which represents the authority’s bus drivers, covers four years, one of which passed while the parties were negotiating and going through binding arbitration.

    The contract includes no raises for the first year and raises of roughly 1.8 and 1.9 percent for each of the next three years, Rupp said.

    Rupp said the contract adds two personal days and increases the employee’s health-care contribution to 15 percent by the end of the contract. It also slightly raises their pension contribution, he said.

    “The wage increase seems high” compared with inflation, Rupp said. However, although it exceeds the so-called “core inflation” rate, he said, it appears more reasonable when compared with overall inflation. That includes other, more volatile items like food, fuel and health care.

    “It isn’t off the charts by any means,” he said.

    Two percent a year, minus the increased health care contribution doesn’t sound out of line, especially when there is not guarantee that inflation won’t go up 2 or 3 years from now.

    I don’t know about overtime. Hiring more drivers and getting some smaller buses is an obvious need when you see the big buses nearly empty some times.
    Decent pay, fair working conditions and retaining employees is worth investing in when you consider the skill and responsibility needed to drive a bus safely.

  5. “…I have been pulling the lever for transportation bonds that put big bucks into highways… to authorize the pocket change for public transit”

    I hope you understand (now that we have 20 years’ worth of these 20-year bonds) that what you actually authorized was spending $1.40 to get $1 of value on transportation expenditures.

    NOT authorizing the bonds would have forced the politicians to deal with the funding of roads and RIPTA the way it’s supposed to be: As a normal expense of government, not a can to kick a decade into the future.

    Sure, there might be a ‘getting used to reality’ period as politicians make cuts, get public pushback, and then allocate the funds to do things properly, but it sure beats our current situation: We spend $60M a year paying interest alone on these bonds. Instead of a ‘transportation trust fund’ we have a billion-dollar hole that we can’t fill without losing federal matches.

    Here’s an idea: Raise taxes to the tune of $15 a person and cut fares to $1. Hole plugged, and lower costs mean more commuting riders.

  6. I am working, paying income and property taxes, and am more focused on income and the quality of life in my city than the tax rate.
    Which is to say– I agree with you.
    It would be a bargain to pay an extra $15 in taxes, annually, or even quarterly with my property tax. I take the bus often enough that the $1 fare would recoup the tax increase.
    Even better, if the bus ran more often, hired more drivers and used smaller buses for the off times, the bus would be a public good for more of our citizens, instead of a last resort of the poor.
    My great-grandfather was a trolley driver, back when everyone took the trolley to work and to the beach.

    1. My uncle Fred was a conductor on the BMT Division of the NY Transit Authority-he used to work on the Myrtle Avenue El and the Fulton Street El in Brooklyn after the 2nd World War.
      On the Myrtle they had the old Brooklyn Union gate cars(I rode them as a kid)where the conductors had to open the gates on the outside platforms at the ends of each car manually.
      Fun to ride,sh*tty to work on.

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