canada africa partner reservation Despite plans to make progress in key areas, the Governor’s budget still leaves RIPTA in the red.

Despite plans to make progress in key areas, the Governor’s budget still leaves RIPTA in the red.

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Arnold “Buff” Chace is the managing partner of Cornish Associates and a resident of Providence.

The 2024 General Assembly has the unique opportunity to finally fund RIPTA and its Transit Master Plan, which would, among other things, expand services statewide. The good news is that voters can help.

Legislation being considered by the House Finance Committee (H7774) would provide much-needed operating funds in the near term and, more importantly, provide the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority with a stable financing solution that is no longer dependent on the federal government or a declining gas tax . gain. As an inner-city resident and avid supporter of public transportation, I firmly believe that improving our public transportation system is critical to sustainable urban living, as well as to our state’s economic growth and environmental health.

In his State of the State address in January and a subsequent social media campaign, Governor Dan McKee focused on several worthy goals: improving school attendance, increasing family incomes, implementing the Act on Climate and solving the housing crisis. However, it is extremely difficult to find a path to achieving these goals without an unwavering commitment to our public transportation system.

More: More than 70% of Rhode Islanders live near a RIPTA bus stop. Could this plan help increase passenger numbers?

This system is essential for providing equal access to employment, education and healthcare for all residents, regardless of their socio-economic status. It is also critical to attracting new jobs to our state. Despite plans to make progress in key areas, the Governor’s FY 2025 budget still leaves an $8 million deficit, putting RIPTA in the red.

Unfortunately, the state has been faced with the challenge of fully funding public transportation for decades. According to the Federal Transit Administration database, Rhode Island invested just $66 in transit per capita in 2019, compared to similarly urbanized states such as Connecticut ($80), Delaware ($110) or Massachusetts ($253). Yet RIPTA is one of the most cost-efficient, well-managed mid-market transit agencies in the country, significantly outperforming the Hartford and Worcester transit systems by significant margins per service hour. RIPTA’s efficient operating budget leaves no room for cuts; it is unreasonable to expect that further savings can be achieved without significant cuts in services.

Highlights of the RIPTA Transit Master Plan, adopted in 2020 with the contributions of key stakeholders and the public, would position the state for success. It would:

∎ Improve bus frequency;

∎ Create new routes;

∎ Shorten travel times;

∎ Improve the commuting experience;

∎ Expansion of the express bus service.

Following this plan and fully funding RIPTA will significantly improve the quality, efficiency, and accessibility of public transportation in Rhode Island. This will in turn increase the number of travelers, reduce traffic congestion and contribute to healthier communities.

More: What’s it like relying on RIPTA to get around the state? We tried it for a week.

Imagine the savings that would be generated if families could own one car instead of two. Imagine the economic opportunities that arise when residents of Rhode Island, Massachusetts or Connecticut can arrive at any train station between Providence and Westerly and then take the bus to work. Imagine the cleaner air that will be created with more public transportation options for our children and grandchildren.

I urge you, our state leaders, to finally give RIPTA the resources it needs to add more riders and move the state in the right direction. I also urge readers to support this funding request and commit to the long-term sustainability and prosperity of our state. A simple email to your state representative or senator, or to committee chairman Marvin Abney, could help move this legislation.

If we allow public transportation to languish at this critical time, no action will be taken for generations. Providing adequate funding for RIPTA now means investing in a better future for all of Rhode Island.