Taking Rhode Island for a Ride
Because — honestly — I’d love to see a successful and commuter- and visitor-friendly public transportation system in Rhode Island, it was encouraging to read the headline, “Public transit is en route to bright, diverse future,” above the following first paragraph:
After a near-collapse, public transit in Rhode Island is making a dramatic turnaround, with some supporters saying its prospects haven’t seemed better in recent memory.
One must get to the final paragraph of Bruce Landis’s story, however, before it’s possible to fully understand what’s changed:
An open question, however, is how to pay for it all. The RIPTA officials who put the plan together say they have identified sources for about 10 percent of the money.
There hasn’t been an upsurge in passengers (due to changing priorities or employment landscapes). There hasn’t even been a huge windfall of magic Obama money, although the RI General Assembly did increase taxes on behalf of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA). Rereading the story in light of the ending, all that’s changed, in essence, is that RIPTA has picked up some allies in the effort to extort more money from what remains of Rhode Island’s productive sector.
If big plans and no notion of how to finance them were happy news, the story of my life would have a glistening title.