The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) announced changes to its organizational structure following a meeting of the Board of Directors today.
Citing budgetary shortfalls, RIPTA announced that approximately thirty (30+) non-transportation positions will be eliminated effective in early 2012. However, RIPTA CEO Charles Odimgbe stated that service needs will necessitate hiring more than twenty (20) drivers by April 2012 to meet ridership demands.
“Faced with a staggering budget deficit, we had to make tough decisions regarding the structure and operation of our organization,” said Odimgbe. “Like any business operating in these difficult times, we had to streamline our operations to most effectively carry out RIPTA’s mission, as the state’s “Mobility Manager,” by operating in a fiscally responsible manner for our riders.”
Established in 1966, RIPTA is a quasi-public; independent organization governed by an eight member appointed Board of Directors and is authorized to operate public transit services throughout the State of Rhode Island. RIPTA employs over 800 individuals, and operates 3,300 daily trips on 54 statewide fixed bus routes.
RIPTA’s approved Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2011 was $100.3 million. Currently, RIPTA faces a $4.6 million budget deficit. A contributing factor cited by Mr. Odimgbe is the need to address certain operational inefficiencies that remain unresolved after lengthy discussions with labor representatives.
Earlier this fall, RIPTA adopted service reductions on 13 bus routes, which was the 28th cut to service in 30 years. “We find ourselves hard pressed to make any more cuts to service at a time when people, many facing major economic need, depend on us for transportation. And at a $2 fare, we currently have one of the highest fares in the country,” said Odimgbe. “We need to reflect the fact that riders across the state expect RIPTA to run economically and efficiently, which is why we need to make these difficult choices now and ultimately hire more drivers in the spring.”
RIPTA released its Five Year Strategic Plan this past March to “Keep Rhode Island Moving,” which commits to maintaining a strong bus system and improving the passenger experience for its riders. A copy of that report can be found at www.ripta.com/content2234.html.
For more RIPTA information, please call 401-784-9500 ext. 170.