Thursday, December 29, 2011
RIPTA Leadership Put On Notice
Before the last RIPTA Board meeting, we sent letters to RIPTA's leadership (Charles Odimgbe CEO, the Board, and Paul Harrington of the ATU). Below is the text of that letter. In essence, we hope that the divisiveness that has grown recently between management and labor can be put aside so that the more urgent task of addressing the flawed RIPTA financing mechanism can be adequately addressed through legislation.
Attention: Mr. Odimgbe, Members of the RIPTA Board, and Mr. Harrington
Dear RIPTA leaders,
On behalf of the RIPTA Riders group and all Rhode Island transit users, we offer our deepest condolences for the loss of Bradford Oxnard and Andy Santagata. We support and admire the hard work of bus drivers in providing public transit to us. In honor of their memories, we respectfully suggest a change of course so that this critical service can be preserved and indeed expanded to meet the needs of Rhode Islanders.
There is an old saying that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Times are admittedly tough for RIPTA, and right now we need to toughen up, roll up our sleeves, and work together to get through these trials intact. Despite significant concessions by labor arrived at through negotiations in good faith with management, and despite continued progress in making RIPTA more efficient, the agency faces a daunting budget deficit and a future of declining gas tax proceeds that promises more of the same. RIPTA Riders applauds the efforts of both labor and management to control costs, but we caution that the continuing budget deficit cannot be solved by cuts, concessions, or efficiencies. The problem must be addressed at its root by changing RIPTA’s funding mechanism.
There is an older saying that applies to our current situation: President Lincoln said “a house divided cannot stand.” The same holds true for transit agencies. RIPTA Riders calls on the RIPTA Board, Management, and Labor to put their differences aside and come to terms with the fact that they have done internally all they can to put RIPTA on sound financial footing. Continued divisiveness between labor and management will not yield a solution to the real problem, and it is reinforcing an unwarranted image of dysfunction that can only hurt efforts to truly address the problem with legislation.
For the good of RIPTA and for the good of the public that it serves, please reconcile your differences and join RIPTA Riders in turning to the task at hand. A united campaign to fill the current deficit and fix public transportation’s broken financing on the part of RIPTA’s Board, its Riders, its Labor, and its Management is the only option that we have if we wish to succeed in ensuring that RIPTA’s mission ("To provide safe, reliable and cost effective transit service with a skilled team of professionals responsive to our customers, the environment, and committed to transit excellence.") is met. Let us speak with one voice and demand the support and respect that public transportation deserves.