RIPTA Announces Public Hearings on Proposed Service Changes Amidst Driver Shortage

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has announced public hearings regarding proposed service modifications across all five counties of Rhode Island. The hearings are scheduled to take place from February 12 to 15, February 19, and February 21, 2024. The decision to reduce services statewide stems from RIPTA’s ongoing struggle with a shortage of drivers, a longstanding challenge that the authority has actively sought to address in recent years. It is crucial to note that this shortage is not linked to the proposed FY2025 budget.

Despite extensive recruitment initiatives, the retirement rate of drivers has outpaced the recruitment efforts, leaving RIPTA with a significant workforce gap. The authority is collaborating closely with the Amalgamated Transit Union leadership in an effort to devise a solution to this persistent issue. The shortage of labor, a predicament faced by transit agencies nationwide, directly influences the level of service RIPTA can deliver. Consequently, the authority must readjust its schedules to align with a consistent and reliable service level for passengers.

The proposed service changes are grounded in data pinpointing the underperforming routes and trip times. These changes involve reallocating resources from low-performing routes to those that demonstrate higher efficiency. Thirty-three regular bus routes could be affected by these proposed adjustments, which may include route eliminations or segments, alterations in service frequency, and enhancements in service frequency on high-performing routes.

Additionally, the reduction of service in certain routes or segments would impact the paratransit ADA service provided by RIPTA through the RIde Program. This service operates within a ¾ mile corridor of fixed-route service.

Scott Avedisian, the CEO of RIPTA, emphasized the authority’s commitment to ensuring 100% scheduled service reliability. Avedisian acknowledged the necessity for prudent changes in response to workforce challenges, stating, “Our goal is to ensure we can meet 100% of our scheduled service 100% of the time. In order to do that, as painful as it is, we must make prudent changes, particularly given our workforce challenges.”

Avedisian further noted ongoing efforts to collaborate with the union to establish a new starting wage for drivers, addressing recruitment challenges and enhancing RIPTA’s ability to fulfill its mission. He expressed optimism that aligning staffing levels with the available service capacity would eliminate missed trips and enhance the overall passenger experience. RIPTA envisions reinstating services based on ridership metrics and in alignment with the statewide Transit Master Plan goals, once the agency substantially bolsters its workforce to counter retirements. Public input gathered during the upcoming hearings will play a crucial role in shaping the final decisions on these proposed service changes.

Public hearings will address service changes to Routes 4, 6, 9x, 13, 14, 16, 18, 21, 29, 30, 51, 54, 58, 64, 65x, 69, 71, 72, 75, 87, 92 and 95x and the elimination of Routes QX, 10x, 12x, 23, 59x, 61x, 68, 73, 76, 80 and 88. Additionally, emergency temporary service changes made in Fall 2022 to Routes 22, 27, 28, 31, 50, 55, 56, 57, 60, 63, and 67 will also be addressed.

The proposed service changes are as follows:

Increase in Trip Frequency or Number of Trips

Route 51 (Charles St./Twin River/CCRI)

Route 54 (Lincoln/Woonsocket)

Route 72 (Weeden/Central Falls)

Route 92 (East Side/Federal Hill/RI College)

Trip Time Changes for Better Service Reliability

Route 14 (West Bay)

Route 16 (Bald Hill /New England Tech)

Route 21 (Reservoir/Malls/ CCRI)

Route 58 (Mineral Spring/North Providence)

Route 72 (Weeden/Central Falls)

Route 92 (East Side/Federal Hill/RI College)

Regular Route Eliminations

Route QX (Quonset Express)

Route 10x (North Scituate Park-n-Ride)

Route 12x (Arctic/117 Express Park-n-Ride)

Route 23 (Arctic/Crompton/Centre of NE)

Route 59x (North Smithfield/Lincoln Mall)

Route 61x (Tiverton/East Bay Park-n-Ride)

Route 68 (CCRI Newport/Memorial Blvd./First Beach)

Route 73 (Mineral Spring/Twin River/CCRI)

Route 76 (Central Ave.)

Route 80 (Armistice Blvd.)

Route 88 (Simmons Village Service)

Route Segment Eliminations                                      Eliminated Segment

Route 14 (West Bay)                                       North Kingstown to Narragansett (Saturday only)

Route 16 (Bald Hill /New England Tech) New England Tech to Quonset

Route 58 (Mineral Spring/North Providence)       Mineral Spring to Rte. 146 (one trip affected)

Elimination of Saturday Service  

Route 18 (Union Ave.)

Route 58 (Mineral Spring/North Providence)

Route 64 (Newport/URI/Kingston Station)             

Elimination of Sunday Service  

Route 4 (Warwick Ave./West Shore)

Route 16 (Bald Hill /New England Tech)

Route 71 (Broad St./Central Falls)

Route 69 (URI/Galilee)

Elimination of All Weekend Service

Route 6 (Prairie Ave./CCRI/RW Zoo)

Route 13 (Coventry/Arctic/CCRI)

Route 29 (CCRI Warwick/Conimicut)

Route 30 (Arlington/Oaklawn)

Route 75 (Dexter/Lincoln Mall)

Reduction in Trip Frequency or Number of Trips

Route 6 (Prairie Ave./CCRI/RW Zoo)

Route 9x (Pascoag Express)

Route 16 (Bald Hill /New England Tech)

Route 18 (Union Ave.)

Route 21 (Reservoir/Malls/CCRI)

Route 65x (Wakefield Express)

Route 87 (Fairmount/Walnut Hill)

Route 95x (Westerly Express)

Route Realignment

Route 6 (Prairie Ave./CCRI/RW Zoo)

Under state law, the Authority must post the hearing schedule prior to holding any public hearings.  All input from the public at the hearings will go to RIPTA’s Board of Directors in February and the Board will vote on the proposed service changes at its February 22, 2024, Board meeting.  If approved, service changes would go into effect on Saturday, April 6, 2024. For more information on these changes, passengers can visit



Like Newport Buzz? We depend on the generosity of readers like you who support us, to help with our mission to keep you informed and entertained with local, independent news and content. We truly appreciate your trust and support!