Anchor Staff Writer
RIC students who depend on bus transit to commute to campus may find themselves at an even greater disadvantage in the near future. Extremely important to the daily lives of many in the state, including RIC students, RIPTA projects a significant budget deficiency that could lead to layoffs of hundreds of employees and a reduction or even halting of certain services.
In interviews with the Providence Journal, RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian and RIPTA managers have stated that “when federal pandemic aid is exhausted sometime next year, the bus agency will need at least another $30 million to maintain current levels of service.” To cover this gap, which is expected to widen by another $10 million in the next five years, RIPTA would have to lay off nearly half of its workforce. Already short by 44 drivers, this would be devastating to Rhode Island’s public transit.
An article from the Boston Globe detailed an internal RIPTA presentation showing exactly what this would mean for the service: “Routes 6, 16, 23, 40, 58, 64, 68, and 73 would be eliminated, along with all park-n-ride/Express routes… Other routes would be reduced in span and frequency: Routes 1, 20, 21, 22, 78, 31, 54, 55, 56, 57, 60, 66, 67, 72 and 92.” Several other supplemental services would also be axed without the employees or money needed to maintain them.
Included in the list of routes to be affected by service reductions are 92 and 55, both of RIC’s only bus routes. It is unknown exactly how severe this reduction may be, but it’s safe to say this will negatively impact students that rely on the bus to commute to campus, including myself. Students who take the bus already face a significant loss of time from longer commutes and from waiting.
A further reduction of service could exacerbate these issues and further disadvantage students who can’t drive or don’t own a private vehicle, potentially making getting to class on time more difficult. This will also force students to leave even earlier than they would otherwise need to, and having to wait outside for longer if they need to make a transfer.
As concerns and conflicts regarding the company’s management and future direction build internally, students that depend on RIPTA for their commute will want to keep a close eye on this situation as it develops and reaches the public.