Proposed cuts to bus service unpopular

PROVIDENCE, RI – Don't cut our service. That was the resounding message as the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) opened a round of public hearings on a proposed seven percent service cut.

The bus agency says it needs the service reductions to close a $4.6 million budget shortfall in the fiscal year that started July 1st.

Fewer than 20 people showed up at the Newport campus of the Community College of Rhode Island for the first of ten public hearings on cuts that would eliminate bus service after 10 pm, eliminate some routes altogether and curtail door-to-door service for the disabled.

But they made up for their small number with intense opposition to the proposed RIPTA cuts.

"If you cut any ADA services you're hurting me."

Darlene Thomson, a blind woman from Middleton, was one of five people who protested an unspecified reduction in door-to-door service for the disabled.

"The unemployment for the visually impaired and blind is 70%," she says. "If you cut services you are hurting me. You are keeping me pinned down and dependent on the system."

Others said eliminating bus service after 10 pm would make it impossible for them to get to work.

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