Greater City Providence

In other RIPTA news…

Oh no! No money! We need money! Service cuts! Dire!

The Providence Journal reports tomorrow today…

But basically, you can just read what I wrote in January.

PS: In January, RIPTA’s deficit was $1.3 million, now it is $9 million, before January it was $13 million. Wha?

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • More other RIPTA news:

    Apparently there’s some pretty sweet early retirement packages at RIPTA, and the Assembly isn’t too happy about it:

    The Providence Journal

    But, RIPTA’s a state agency*, why is the Assembly just learning about all this now? It didn’t matter before? Now that Assembly members are facing election during a recession they are all hard line on extravagant benefits all of a sudden?

    State employee pension benefits have become controversial and are a particularly sore point with Governor Carcieri.

    Really Mumbles? You’ve had almost two full terms to deal with it. I think “have become” is the key phrase here.

    *Well, “quasi-public. It gets most of it’s money from the state, the state should be aware of what it is paying for.

  • I thought this thread would be the best place to post this. From Governor Carcieri’s 2011 budget press release. The 2011 budget requires the Department of Transportation to:

    “develop a plan to consolidate RIPTA into the agency, bringing greater coordination of all of Rhode Island transportation functions”.

    For those in the know, what do you think of this?

  • I heard Mark Therrien, Assistant General Manager of RIPTA speak recently. One of the things he noted was that as RIDOT was planning for the station at T.F. Green, they never spoke to RIPTA. It seems obvious that once the station opens, buses in Warwick should be re-routed to serve it, but RIDOT had no plans to even provide a place for buses to berth. So at the very least, having RIDOT and RIPTA under the same umbrella would hopefully mean that they would actually talk to each other. Road/highway planning cannot and should not be separate from transit planning.

  • I also heard RIDOT Director Michael Lewis speak recently. He seems very cognizant of the fact that we aren’t building anymore highways in Rhode Island and that expanded mass transit is the future.

    Of course he is not Director for life, so we could have a highway-guy in there at some point, but it behooves us to ensure that the Governor and Assembly know that won’t fly.

  • It’s been publicized that RIDOT is fully aware that if public transit isn’t significantly improved soon, the state will have to make massive improvements to 95 and possibly other highways. Will this mean that the future 95 might look more like Hollywood Freeway with 5 lanes in each direction or the New Jersey Turnpike with 2 sets of 3 lanes in each direction? That’s a lot of bridge replacements and road widening. A project on that scale would make installing a handful of streetcar lines and adding commuter rail stations cheap in comparison.

  • Another example of the current RIPTA RIDOT disconnect that I’ve heard:

    There’s a bridge somewhere, I want to say Cranston, but that’s not the important part. Anyway, the bridge is closed, and the RIPTA bus serving the area has been on this huge detour while the bridge is closed. And that huge detour costs RIPTA a lot in wasted fuel. Also people who do not have ride the bus have stopped, because the detour makes the route too long. So RIPTA has this huge fuel expense and is losing money at the farebox.

    Meanwhile, RIDOT viewed the bridge as a rather low priority to fix and had it pushed way down their list. When RIDOT and RIPTA finally chatted about the issue and RIDOT realized how much money RIPTA (a state agency just like RIDOT) was losing because of the bridge, RIDOT pushed the bridge further up the priority list.

    Currently RIDOT and RIPTA don’t talk about simple things like this (though it is getting better), and the taxpayers and riders lose.

  • As a follow up, the intermodal facility at TF Green will have an area for RIPTA buses to layover. I don’t think its anything special, but there is an area for them. The facility has the ability to be served on both the Post Road side and the Jefferson Blvd. side.

  • So at the January 2010 RIPTA Board of Directors meeting, it was discussed that the state had reforecasted the gas tax yield to be lower than what was estimated back in May 2009 at the Revenue Estimating Conference. What this means is that RIPTA is facing a deficit of $2 million for FY10 (this fiscal year that ends on 6/30/10). Hopefully actions can be taken that do not results in service cuts or fare increases. There was talk of using ARRA money to plug the gap but there was pushback on this from some of the board. We need to solve this funding gap or all of the great visions we have for transit on the state will never be realized. Link to the January 2010 board meeting below. The section about the gas tax yield starts on page 9.

  • Isn’t the current fuel tax revenue percentage based? Why can’t they change it to a flat tax per gallon with a annual minimum guarantee that goes to RIPTA. That way you take out the volatility of the price of gasoline and demand/sales. With the minimum, it provides RIPTA a baseline amount for budgeting and if thety get more, great.

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