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On Monday, the Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority, RIPTA for those in the know, put out a sleek, professionally produced, yet entirely Rhode Island-ish music video reminding people not to walk in front of moving buses.
Let’s see somebody in Worcester put something like that together. That’s high quality shit, not like the usual second-rate TV commercials and public service announcements we are used to from all things produced in RI.
Apparently all of RIPTA’s funding went into making that music video at the expense of health checks for drivers. The same day their new single dropped, a RIPTA bus driver suffered some sort of medical emergency and plowed his bus halfway through a building in Warwick, basically knocking the place down.
Thankfully it sounds like the driver and a passenger who was injured trying to help him are going to be ok. But this begs the question, who the hell paid for this professional quality music video from an agency that’s supposedly so strapped for cash?
A quarter of all RIPTA riders ride for free, as the agency offers free rides to the bread and butter of the Rhode Island democratic base, the non-working party. Naturally, this leads to budget shortfalls and the need to make up revenue somewhere.
Rather than do away with free rides, the response is of course to target people who have the option to drive a car, AKA people who work. One of the solutions bantered about for was appealing to “millenials.” You know, those cell phone toting, 5 dollar latte drinking, farm to table eating, and overall worldly hipster kids.
I can think of a couple problems with this approach. First of all, there aren’t many “millenials” left in Rhode Island, and least not those who generally contribute to society. Most flee the state as soon as they can after finishing high school or college, unless they come from some politically connected family where the kids spend their Friday nights at the same townie bar that grandpa started going to in the 30’s.
Second, the bus routes make no sense for people who value their jobs and need to do crazy things like get to work on time. For Rhode Island Turtleboy to take the bus to work, I’d have to leave home 2 hours before work, get dropped on a street corner in Pawtucket, walk 4 or 5 blocks, catch a bus out to a Wal-Mart parking lot somewhere, then hope I don’t miss the express bus to Providence that only runs once every hour. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Finally, the main problem with the RIPTA system is that all roads lead to Kennedy Plaza. No matter what time of day you arrive, you’ll be greeted by some of Providence’s finest shouting expletives at nothing, threatening to kill some guy across the street, aggressively asking you for money, or just awkwardly staring at you as they set up on the sidewalk in the morning for a full day of watching the world go by. Or perhaps barking at you. Or if you’re female, politely propositioning you.
You would think city officials would value the first impression visitors receive when they arrive from out of town, but they seem content to allow the usual Mensa gatherings to take place in Kennedy Plaza all day everyday. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy not feeling like I’m stepping into a prison/lunatic asylum/homeless shelter each morning on my way into work. No sleek music video from some mysterious source of funding is going to change that.
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