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RI Public Transit maliciously neglected by State, facing disasters

Dally Dixon

Asst. News Editor

Public transit is vitally important as tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders depend upon RIPTA to get around. It’s needed by those who are disabled, can’t drive, can’t afford a car, don’t want a car, or frankly how less Rhode Islanders should be on the roads given that we notoriously drive like you-know-whats. Public transit is also a keystone climate solution, as climate change is driven by the automobile industry and Big Oil.  

RIPTA has been severely underfunded and neglected for decades, especially in comparison to surrounding states like Massachusetts, which spent $239 per person in 2021 where Rhode Island spends a laughable $19. Rhode Island ranks amongst the lowest in the country for public transport funding. RIPTA is also facing a driver shortage, with a quarter of drivers eligible for retirement next year. During the pandemic, RIPTA ridership went down for obvious reasons. The federal government then gave them emergency funding but it’ll run out this year, leaving RIPTA $33 million in the hole. This number will only increase. RIPTA asked Governor McKee for its much needed $18 million for the fiscal year of 2025, but he denied it, despite the request being a small fraction of the RIDOT budget of $816,719,830

Image from by Jef Nickerson

On top of the fiscal cliff and driver shortage, plans are underway for a Kennedy Plaza bus hub relocation to Dorrance St, enraging transit riders and advocates. One such organization, RI Transit Riders said “RI Transit Riders strongly opposes the proposed contract on the RIPTA Board's January 30 agenda to spend $16.9 million on initial design for a project built around a completely unnecessary new bus hub… When RIPTA is facing imminent service cuts, unable to pay enough to attract bus drivers, and expecting an even worse fiscal cliff in the next two years, it is financially irresponsible to undertake an expensive move to a new bus hub in a worse location than the current one.” 

EcoNewsRI writes “Since this project is funded with money that voters approved specifically for bus transit, we believe it must not worsen bus transit in Rhode Island. But at present, the only thing we can be 100% certain of is that a few politically connected downtown Providence real estate owners, who backed earlier ill-conceived plans to push buses out of Kennedy Plaza, will benefit from this project at public expense.”  


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