PROVIDENCE, RI — The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) will temporarily reduce bus route frequency starting Saturday, Oct. 22, as it adjusts to a labor shortage.
RIPTA won’t eliminate routes, and plans to reinstate service levels as soon as manpower permits, the agency said in a statement announcing the service reduction. RIPTA will temporarily reduce service frequencies on Routes 17, 19, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 31, 50, 51, 54, 55, 56, 57, 60, 63, 65X, 67, 72, 87, and 92 beginning Saturday, October 22, 2022.
Morning, night, weekend and holiday service will not be impacted. Details on the proposed changes are available on RIT. Temporarily reducing service to match RIPTA’s current staffing levels means that riders will encounter fewer canceled trips as the agency will be able to run service truer to schedule.
“In Rhode Island and across the country, there is a shortage of staff necessary to maintain daily transportation services. RIPTA is facing fierce competition from higher-paying private-sector companies for commercial drivers,” said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA’s Chief Executive Officer. “As a result, this is causing a disruption for our customers in daily fixed-route bus service.”
RIPTA is currently in negotiations with Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Division 618 (which represents RIPTA drivers) to increase starting hourly pay for van operators in an effort to become more competitive in the marketplace.
“Our goal is to always move transit forward. Reducing service is the last thing that we want to do as a transit agency,” said Avedisian. “Unfortunately, the unprecedented labor shortage we are experiencing due to unforeseen impacts of COVID, coupled with eligible retirements make moving forward a challenge.”
Avedisian added that RIPTA’s ambitious Transit Master Plan calls for service expansion “but we cannot continue to expand service if we do not have the manpower necessary to maintain even current service levels.”
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