“We don’t represent every single young person in Rhode Island, but we know that a lot of us are talking about and hurting from this issue every day.”
— Susana, 16, Youth In Action
A 20 percent cut in routes. The complete elimination of some routes. No bus service after 7 pm. Fare hikes.
These are some of the proposed solutions to the $10.8 million deficit currently facing the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), the state’s only public transit system. Any way you look at it, it’s a system in crisis. As Providence youth who rely on public transportation to get us to and from school, after school activities, and work, it’s a crisis that hits home. As the Media Team at Youth In Action, it’s become a cause.
Ironically, these hard times for RIPTA come when ridership has grown 35 percent in three years. Many buses are already overcrowded.It’s estimated that ten times a day, RIPTA buses on some city routes pass up waiting passengers because they have no room. A reduction in service could not come at a worse time.
The RIPTA crisis has many sources, but its reliance on a fixed—and low—percentage of the state’s gas tax has left it crippled. The recent surge in fuel prices only aggravates what was already a shaky funding formula.
One of the interesting things about many crises, we have learned, is that they often fly below the public radar screen until it’s too late.
We have created this website and media campaign to sound the alarm. We want to share what we have learned through our research and interviews, hoping you will join us in turning this knowledge into action—action that doesn’t just restore RIPTA to its current state but makes it a model for other urban areas. Crises, we also know, present opportunities for fresh thinking.
Whether you use RIPTA or not, we are all stakeholders: the Rhode Island economy depends on an affordable and efficient public transportation system.
There are lots of ways to bring public attention to the RIPTA crisis. We have chosen media as our tool. Our media campaign includes a collection of audio slideshows, which are like videos. Each combines the photos we took with the audio we recorded (interviews, street sounds, music) and then edited to make a polished piece. Click on the image or the title and the audio slideshow will automatically load. It may take 30-45 seconds, depending on your Internet connection. Be sure the volume on your computer is set to high.
Click here for an interview with John Flaherty of Grow Smart RI and street interviews with RIPTA riders.
Click here for our views on the crisis—what’s causing it and what needs to be done.
Sights and Sounds
Click here for a “virtual visit” to Providence’s Kennedy Plaza and a block party where neighbors talk about the RIPTA crisis.