Is there a new transportation super-agency in Rhode Island’s future? Perhaps.
On March 25, the new Raimondo administration quietly opened bids for a contract to provide “Transportation Management Assessment and Review Services.”
Among the stated “goals of this investigation”: to take a step-back look at the effectiveness of having multiple state agencies operate different pieces of Rhode Island’s transportation network, from the ports and airports, to the RIPTA bus routes and road-builders.
It would be very helpful if RIDOT and RIPTA were more integrated on projects; if there was always a mass transit person at the table when RIDOT work was being planned. It is a little worrying that RIPTA could be merged with an agency that still has not proven that it can move beyond car-first thinking when it comes to transportation.
It is not just RIPTA and RIDOT though, airport manangement, port management, and Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (which controls our bridges and tolls) could all be merged into a larger transportation agency.
It all comes down to how it is structured of course. It will be interesting to see what the conclusions of the review are.
This could solve RIPTA’s criminally underfunded budget if structured properly. Best case scenario, this consolidation could transform RI into a urbanist’s paradise (yeah I might be being to optimistic).
I think the recent commuter rail extensions, the funding of an MBTA yard in Pawtucket, the number of state-funded bike paths, and the number of road diets completed or in the works show that RIDOT is more than “car-first thinking.”
It is how they build (or re-build) our roadways that is the problem. Any suggestions about pedestrian or cycling enhancements on roadway projects are met with skepticism and consternation on their effects on drivers. The effects of drivers on pedestrian and cyclist movement never get the same level of attention or care.
And then just merge the whole kit and kaboodle along with SEPTA and make it all part of the MBTA – a super regional transit authority.
In response of Rhode Island consolidating, Massachusetts as already merged the MBTA, Mass Pike & Mass Port with Mas Dot. Why not having RIPTA the Rhode Island Turnpike & Bridge Authority & the Rhode Island Airport Cooperation merge with RIDOT.
This will allow both the RIDOT & RIPTA to jointly oversee not only bus operation, but also an intrastate rail service, such as my suggested Rhode Island Railway Trans-State (Woonsocket-Westerly) & Trans-Metro (Woonsocket-Wickford Junction & Woonsocket-Quonset Point) Commuter-Rail Rapid Transit & Narragansett Bay Commuter Ferry.
SEPTA is in Philadelphia & has nothing to do with Rhode Island.