STATE HOUSE, Providence – President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio today issued the following statement in regards to the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority:
RIPTA has been plagued by enduring challenges that have only grown more severe over the years. Despite federal funding that presented an unprecedented opportunity to make necessary reforms, there has been no change in direction. Foreseeable challenges, such as a driver shortage at the start of the school year, were left unaddressed until there was a crisis. There have been unacceptable management gaffes, such as the granting a no-bid lobbying contract to a political ally, apparently without the Board’s knowledge. No meaningful plan to confront the agency’s fiscal challenges has been presented to the General Assembly, and we are again faced with putting band aids on a gaping wound.
A quality, well-functioning public transit system is vital to the people of our state and our economy. It is time for wholesale reform at RIPTA.
The time has come to place the agency under the auspices of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, and I will be submitting legislation to that effect. I am asking that CEO Scott Avedisian step down immediately, and that the governor conduct a national search for someone with expertise in transit to head Rhode Island’s public transit office, under this new structure.
Finally, I have asked Chairman Mark McKenney to convene the Senate Committee on Rules, Government Ethics & Oversight to conduct an oversight hearing of the agency.