An open letter to Rhode Island's elected officials:
Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) need not be profitable. Its operation is in the public good. At this time, with real decline in wages, a higher percentage of unemployed than elsewhere in the US, and the need to move people around the state to take advantage of employment opportunities, we should be expending RIPTA. RIPTA is not a service: it is an infrastructure. Judge its utility based similarly to other infrastructures. When have the roads and bridges been profitable? They never have been and never will be, but we continue to expand and maintain them because they are in the public good.
If you are paid anywhere near the minimum wage then it takes you more than a full day's pay to buy a tank of gas (sightline.org). And gas is only part of the operating costs. How to you get to work if you can't afford a car? Without RIPTA then you must walk. Employment opportunities within walking distance are severely limited especially in RI where we have relatively small urban cores.
If RI wants to build the 21st Century Innovation Economy let us start by innovating and supporting public transport. Please vote to strengthen RI by strengthening RIPTA.