Greater City Providence

Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian named new CEO of RIPTA

Scott Avedisian speaking at a RIPTA press conference in 2013

Press release from RIPTA:

RIPTA Board Selects New CEO Warwick Mayor, Former RIPTA Chair Scott Avedisian Picked for Leadership Role

The Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has selected Mayor Scott Avedisian as RIPTA’s new Chief Executive Officer. Avedisian, who has served as Mayor of Warwick since 2000, was chair of the RIPTA board from 2012 to 2016. The appointment is pending the successful completion of contract negotiations, RIPTA Board Chairman Wayne Kezirian announced today at a meeting of the board.

“Scott’s long, successful experience with RIPTA means he has an in-depth understanding of the Agency that enables him to immediately provide leadership in continuing our progress towards making RIPTA a success,” said Kezirian. “It’s a perfect fit for where RIPTA is today, and where we want to be in the future.”

“For nearly two decades, Scott has been an effective and bipartisan Mayor of Warwick and an ardent advocate for public transit,” said Gov. Gina M. Raimondo. “He is an excellent choice to lead RIPTA. I look forward to working with him to keep Rhode Island moving and provide Rhode Islanders with high quality access to public transportation.”

Avedisian said that he is excited about the opportunity to lead RIPTA, which he described as being an essential component of a successful economy, and provided Rhode Islanders with 16.6 million trips last year.

“You can’t have a world-class economy without a world-class transit system,” Avedisian said. “I’m looking forward to working with the great team at RIPTA to build on what’s already been done to create that model transit system for our state.”

Avedisian also noted the important role of public transit in reducing the number of cars on Rhode Island’s roads, easing traffic congestion and reducing emissions and environmental impacts.

Capitalizing on successful routes and creating a more flexible system will be two of Avedisian’s priorities, he said.

“Overall, we need to build a new RIPTA that meets the needs of existing customers – and future customers – where they are,” he said. “A system that is innovative enough to be flexible has tremendous potential for growth.”

Connecting RIPTA with Rhode Island’s colleges and universities will be another priority, Avedisian said. “These institutions are engines of Rhode Island’s future economy, and we need to do our part to make those connections efficiently and effectively.”

Avedisian pointed to RIPTA’s recent award from GrowSmartRI for their innovative renovation of the Newport Transportation and Visitors Center as an example of the creative talent at the agency.

“RIPTA has provided great service to Rhode Island during the past half-century,” he said. “Now it’s time to put that innovative thinking and potential to work preparing for the next 50 years.”

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  • I think this is a positive development. Scott was a good Board Chair who showed a real interest in RIPTA and understands its strengths and weaknesses. He was willing to listen to the public and made the public feel welcome at Board meetings. Also important, he has the managerial experience in running a large city, Warwick. And he has political connections!
    There should be some appreciation for Amy Pettine, who was interim CEO for over 1/2 year and did a good job despite lacking the authority that a permanent CEO would have.
    That said, RIPTA has lost a lot of riders in the last few years (from over 20 million/yr to just over 16 million) excessive overtime is still a budget issue, and RIPTA suffers from the image that is mainly for the poor, elderly, and disabled, a perception strengthened by the long campaign for “free” rides to those groups, even during commuter hours. If RIPTA is to do much to help restore our core cities, combat climate change, keep more energy dollars in the state economy, and attract employers, then the business, labor, and environmental community will have to step up far more than they have to help change that perception, RIPTA’s miniscule marketing department cannot do that on its own.

  • What he needs is to get out of the “Rhode Island” mentality and understand RIPTA needs to be Providence Metro focused…far more than the state.

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