To the editor,
After reading the article in the February 20 issue titled, “Buses will run again in Tiverton.” I have a mixed opinion. State Representative Jay Edwards’ announcement after a meeting with the RI Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) does have merit. Actually, Jay Edwards is one of the very few incumbent representatives on Capitol Hill that I would even consider voting for in the future (his opposition to the tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge being a large factor).
This is my problem with RIPTA’s plan. First, they did not have the funding to serve Tiverton when the tolls on the bridge were being considered. Second, the proposed plan calls for six bus trips from East Providence to the Tiverton Park & Ride on Fish Road. I would hope that a rider could get from the East Providence stop to other destinations in Providence or elsewhere in Rhode Island. But to schedule six trips per day with 39-passenger buses is a drastic, perhaps absurd, plan, considering that RIPTA had no funding a short time ago to do this.
Let’s look at the facts. The proposed buses cost $433,000 each; we know that Rhode Island does not pay cash for anything, the real cost with financing is well over $500,000.
A U.S. Department of Transportation Transit Bus Life Cycle Cost Report (FTA-WV-26-7004-2007.1) estimates that these buses purchased by RIPTA have an estimated life of 12 years, and that fuel (with single-digit miles-per-gallon) plus maintenance will cost over $500,000 during their life, not including the bus driver’s salary and the driver’s lifetime RI benefit package.
In reality, we will not see six buses with 39 people traveling between East Providence and Tiverton. The RIPTA buses in Newport County I have seen usually have a driver and a number aof passengers I can count on one hand (that’s five or less, for those who work on Capitol Hill). These one million dollar investments returning two dollars per passenger are not a subsidy to public transportation, but an absolute goring of Rhode Island taxpayers.
It would make more sense to purchase some smaller nine-passenger or equivalent-size vans to run this route. This concept would cost about one-tenth of the capital investment for taxpayers, can be purchased to operate on the same fuel, and may even get double-digit mph.