RIPTA: Will cut jobs, spare bus service

PROVIDENCE, RI – About 100 RIPTA bus drivers and managers rallied at Kennedy Plaza Tuesday morning to protest a proposed 30 percent cut in federal funding. Paul Harrington, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union says the cut would be a disaster for the already cash-strapped agency.

"Mass transit's a lifeline to the hard-working people of this country. Because of the recession we have a new class of people. It's the working poor," says Harrington. "They ride these buses. The buses are full of them. They use these buses day in and day out to go to work."

The protest was one of several held around the country today. The proposed cuts to transportation funding will impact public transit as well as repair work to roads and bridges.

RIPTA Rolls Back Plan to Cut Service
Meantime, the RIPTA Board of Directors is backing away from a proposal to cut service by as much as seven percent to close a nearly $5 million deficit. The RIPTA board of directors has no interest in ending service after 10:00 pm or eliminating dozens of routes, says Mark Therrien, the Authority's assistant general manager. He says a plan to reduce service by seven percent is off the table, "Very very limited service reductions. Not much at all."

Instead, Therrien says the Board is likely to vote next week to make up the nearly $5 million budget shortfall by eliminating non-driver positions. He says the layoffs won't impact buses drivers, but more on the administrative side of RIPTA's operations. He says the new budget-balancing strategy would eliminate about 30 jobs.

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