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RIPTA to eliminate staff positions to balance budget

Solitary RIPTA bus in Kennedy Plaza

RIPTA Announces Organizational Changes

December 19, 2011 – Providence, Rhode Island… The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) announced changes to its organizational structure following a meeting of the Board of Directors today.

Citing budgetary shortfalls, RIPTA announced that approximately thirty (30+) non-transportation positions will be eliminated effective in early 2012. However, RIPTA CEO Charles Odimgbe stated that service needs will necessitate hiring more than twenty (20) drivers by April 2012 to meet ridership demands.

“Faced with a staggering budget deficit, we had to make tough decisions regarding the structure and operation of our organization,” said Odimgbe. “Like any business operating in these difficult times, we had to streamline our operations to most effectively carry out RIPTA’s mission, as the state’s “Mobility Manager,” by operating in a fiscally responsible manner for our riders.”

Established in 1966, RIPTA is a quasi-public; independent organization governed by an eight member appointed Board of Directors and is authorized to operate public transit services throughout the State of Rhode Island. RIPTA employs over 800 individuals, and operates 3,300 daily trips on 54 statewide fixed bus routes.

RIPTA’s approved Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2011 was $100.3 million. Currently, RIPTA faces a $4.6 million budget deficit. A contributing factor cited by Mr. Odimgbe is the need to address certain operational inefficiencies that remain unresolved after lengthy discussions with labor representatives.

Earlier this fall, RIPTA adopted service reductions on 13 bus routes, which was the 28th cut to service in 30 years. “We find ourselves hard pressed to make any more cuts to service at a time when people, many facing major economic need, depend on us for transportation. And at a $2 fare, we currently have one of the highest fares in the country,” said Odimgbe. “We need to reflect the fact that riders across the state expect RIPTA to run economically and efficiently, which is why we need to make these difficult choices now and ultimately hire more drivers in the spring.”

RIPTA released its Five Year Strategic Plan this past March to “Keep Rhode Island Moving,” which commits to maintaining a strong bus system and improving the passenger experience for its riders.

RIPTA

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2 Responses to RIPTA to eliminate staff positions to balance budget

  1. Jack December 19, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Do we really need a streetcar when RIPTA has to fire people to make ends meet?

  2. Peter Brassard December 19, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    It will be 3 or 4 years before a streetcar is operational, if it gets built on schedule. The funding for it would not help with RIPTA’s current or future operational shortfalls. The federal government does not allow capital funding, such as would be needed to build the streetcar, to be used for operations. Streetcars or light-rail historically trigger high levels of development. Buses don’t. The now greater Downtown area desperately needs an internal transit system (or core connector), such as the streetcar to remain competitive with other cities. Whether streetcar or bus, the costs to operate a core connector would be the same (staffing salaries).

    RIPTA’s current budget shortfall is due to an outdated funding system|the gas tax. The only solution is for the General Assembly to change how RIPTA is funded. The streetcar really has nothing to do with the current budget problem.

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