They have sent a letter to the Rhode Island Congressional delegation asking for their assistance in obtaining a waiver of the federal requirement that the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) buy $10 million of liability insurance coverage — from a private insurance company — before RIPTA buses can cross state lines.
Currently RIPTA, as a public entity, is self-insured, which means that it pays, out of its own pocket, those claims it is deemed responsible for, with no contribution from, or minimum or maximum amount established by, any insurance company.
At a town hall meeting last Monday night about re-establishing possible bus service to Tiverton and Little Compton, RIPTA Assistant General Manager Mark Thierrien said that federal regulations (by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), and the federally-imposed insurance requirements, make cross-border transit now impossible.
“We need to have a $10 million liability insurance policy to cross state lines,” he said. The annual premium for such insurance is approximately $1 million, he said.
Service between Tiverton and Fall River was acknowledged as crucial. “That’s where the demand is,” Mr. Thierrien told the 45 people who attended the meeting.
In the audience Monday evening during Mr. Thierrien’s presentation were local Representatives John G. (Jay) Edwards (D-Dist. 70) and Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71), and Senator Christopher S. Ottianao (R-Dist. 11).
The three who were there, and Senator Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10), were the authors of the letter to the state Congressional delegation asking for the waiver.
Their letter said that the federal private insurance requirement “would be cost prohibitive and would effectively kill any sort of connection” to the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA) in Massachusetts.
Last October, Rep. Edwards sent a letter to RIPTA Chairman Scott Avedisian, also the mayor of Warwick, expressing his concern about the lack of bus service in Tiverton, pointing out that public transportation and infrastructure is a crucial instrument of job growth, and benefits other areas of importance such as education, daycare, and general livability.