This post is republished from the Coalition for Transportation Choices (CTC). The CTC calls for a 21st century transportation system that enhances our economy and provides all Rhode Islanders with healthy transportation choices. Grow Smart RI is a member of the Coalition.
Two major developments over the course of the last year have the potential to be game changers in the ongoing efforts to reform Rhode Island’s transportation funding.
While the broad coalition of more than 50 organizations that make up the CTC remains united behind the Coalition’s legislative agenda, there is reason to believe that these new developments can make the difference in 2012.
First, a grassroots group of activists who rallied to oppose the massive cuts proposed for bus service in the summer of 2011 have come together to organize RIPTA Riders. In less than eight months, the group has blossomed from a handful of members to more than 500, and they have collected more than 3000 signatures on their ‘Save RIPTA‘ petition. It is the first time that Rhode Island’s transit riders have organized to advocate on their own behalf for preserving and expanding service.
Second, thanks in part to the public outcry that RIPTA Riders helped demonstrate, 25 state representatives have self-identified as transit supporters and members of a nascent transit caucus working to keep the buses rolling. They are Representatives Art Handy, Teresa Tanzi, Jay O’Grady, Maria Cimini, Joy Hearn, Ray Hull, David Bennett, Frank Ferri, Edie Ajello, Mike Chippendale, Cale Keable, Larry Valencia, Chris Blazejewski, Donna Walsh, Michael Marcello, Michael Tarro, Spencer Dickinson, Lisa Tomasso, Grace Diaz, Anastasia Williams, Scott Guthrie, Elaine Coderre, Scott Slater, Jan Malik, and Peter Martin.
Led by Representatives O’Grady, Tanzi, and Handy, this group is determined to make sure that RIPTA will not have to cut service again. O’Grady and 10 co-sponsors introduced the Public Transit Investment Act (H7581), which would ensure that RIPTA can meet its plans for service expansion and also ensure that the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will never have to borrow another dime.On February 16th, RIPTA Riders held an event to bring caucus members together for a networking and strategy session, “An Evening to Keep the Buses Rolling.” The event featured RIPTA’s new chairman of the board, Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, RIDOT Director Mike Lewis, Senator Lou DiPalma Co-Chairman of the Senate Study Commission that is examining transportation financing, and Representative O’Grady. What became increasingly clear throughout the night was the scale of what needs to be done to put both RIPTA and RIDOT in sustainable situations.
Will this young, informal caucus together with the CTC, RIPTA Riders and other concerned Rhode Islanders finally fix the state’s broken system of transportation financing? The prospects for success have never been better, but we need your help.
- If you haven’t already, consider writing testimony in support of the Public Transit Investment Act on behalf of your organization or yourself. Please email Kim (KTwist@clf.org) at the Conservation Law Foundation for more details.
- Also, please send a letter asking your Representative to support the Public Transit Investment Act. It only takes a few moments by following this link. Whether they are already part of the transit caucus or not, they all need to hear about the public’s support of transportation financing reform.
- Finally, join the thousands who have already signed the petition. Together, we can do this.
With you help, this could be the year.