“While RIPTA regularly makes service adjustments three times a year in response to seasonal changes and/or passenger use, this round of changes is directly related to the agency’s struggle to competitively recruit new drivers in the current marketplace,” a press release from RIPTa states. “RIPTA will not be eliminating any routes, and the agency plans to reinstate service levels as they are currently scheduled as soon as manpower permits”.
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.
RIPTA notes that early morning, night, weekend, and holiday service will not be impacted by these changes.
Details on the proposed changes are available at RIPTA.com/ServiceChanges. 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, according to RIPTA.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
2022 Fall Service Changes
In addition to the temporary service reductions, RIPTA will also implement annual changes which include trip time adjustments to Routes 13, 29 and 67. In addition, a trip time will be added to Route 54 (Lincoln/Woonsocket), and Route 92 (East Side/ Federal Hill/ RI College) will now serve Governor Apartments.
The following routes will be affected by temporary service reductions and/or fall service changes:
21 Reservoir/Garden City/CCRI
22 Pontiac Ave.
29 CCRI Warwick/Conimicut
31 Cranston St.
50 Douglas Ave./Bryant University
51 Charles St./Twin River/CCRI
55 Admiral/Providence College
56 Chalkstone Ave.
57 Smith Street
63 Broadway/Middletown Shops
65X Wakefield Park-n-Ride
72 Weeden/Central Falls
87 Fairmount/Walnut Hill
92 East Side/Federal Hill/RI College
RIPTA is strongly encouraging passengers to check new schedules to understand how service changes may affect them. They may also pick up the leaflet entitled Fall Service Changes Effective October 22, 2022 that is available at Kennedy Plaza and the Newport Transportation Center; the leaflet is also viewable online.
For information on RIPTA services, passengers may call (401) 781-9400 or visit RIPTA.com.