Avedisian outlines goals for his new job

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When Mayor Scott Avedisian assumes his new job as CEO of the Rhode Island Transit Authority June 1, he wants to improve service by strengthening the connection between Rhode Island’s universities, capturing more riders of choice, and creating more links between different types of transportation.

“It’s not just the colleges,” said Avedisian. “It’s going to be the job centers. It’s going to be Quonset. It’s going to be Davisville. It’s going to be how can we move people most effectively and efficiently.”

Avedisian outlined a few of objectives in an interview Monday.

On top of Avedisian list of priorities is connecting and moving around efficiently the students at Rhode Island’s colleges and universities. Avedisian discussed flex service, and the need for bus schedules to line up with student demand and class times.

“It’s going to need to be flex service,” said Avedisian. “There’s going to be certain times of the day when classes reach a critical mass and you can move enough people to make it worth it to do that. And it may be evening classes. It may be that there’s a two and half hour evening class at NEIT.”

Avedisian wants the UPass program, which gives discounted bus fees to college students, to be improved, and for RIPTA to better serve campuses such as the Community College of Rhode Island.

“We need to figure out how we move students more efficiently and more effectively,” said Avedisian. “That’s one of the big issues I would like to work on.”

Another concern for Avedisian will be capturing riders of choice. Riders of choice are usually riders who own, or could own, a vehicle, but choose to ride RIPTA regardless. Some have environmental concerns or want to reduce their carbon footprint.

“We need to figure out how to capture those people,” said Avedisian. “We need to make it a pleasant and good ridership experience so that they will not only join but continue to ride.”

Avedisian also wants to follow through on the transportation-oriented developments already announced in Pawtucket and Central Falls. Transportation oriented developments are areas where public transport is part of the fabric of the community, so residents can live without having to own cars. The TOD movement is spreading throughout the United States, seeking a future without cars.

“The link to rail and the link to light rail is going to be incredibly important,” said Avedisian of these new developments.

The Interlink system at Green Airport is an example of this type of transportation.

Avedisian also voiced some concerns about funding, and the desire to “get the best value that we can.

Avedisian has had past experience with RIPTA. He was chair of the board from 2012 to 2016, where during his time with the organization he helped work on the R-line in Providence and a rework of upper staff management.

Innovations like the R-line are initiatives Avedisian wants to grow and improve.

“They really structured the R-line to move the largest number of people in the system as quickly as possible,” said Avedisian. “Those kind of innovations are really important for the future of mass transit.”

The R-line in Providence is a bus line running from RIPTA’s hub at Kennedy Square in Providence all the way down towards the Providence - Cranston border. The bus line acts like a subway, with buses coming every 10 minutes during peak hours. This makes public transport a more reliable option for commuters and occasional users alike.

The Beacon also asked Avedisian about the infamous “Caution! Bus is turning” message played over loudspeakers. Installed last year, the message is meant to protect pedestrians, often distracted by phones and other devices, from turning buses. The system, designed and sold by Protran Technology of New Jersey, cost $400,000 but has garnered complaints for being too loud and disruptive in residential areas.

“It is loud, it’s supposed to be because it’s supposed to grab your attention so you know there’s a bus,” said Avedisian. “I’m willing to have discussions with people about how that changes, but I think we really need to make sure that we’re protecting people as much as we possibly can.”

Avedisian will find some ready workers when he gets to RIPTA.

Thomas Cute, president of the RIPTA bus driver’s union Amalgamated Transit Union Local 618, said, “we look forward to working with [Avedisian]. He’s been very efficient in taking care of transit projects in the City of Warwick and he’s been instrumental in improving transport.”

Of labor relations between RIPTA and the bus driver’s union Cute said, “Mayors know how to get things done. They have to be well versed. I suspect there will be sometimes when we don’t agree, but I know he’ll be listening to me.”

The RIPTA Riders Alliance, the lobbying body for RI passengers, also supports Avedisian’s appointment.

A letter on the RIPTA Riders Alliance Facebook page from Don Rhodes, president of the organization says, “The RIPTA Riders Alliance supports the appointment of Scott Avedisian to the position of CEO of RIPTA. We want to note we had a good relationship with Avedisian when he was RIPTA Board Chair. We appreciated that he was a Board member who showed real concern for RIPTA and its passengers.”

Avedisian will leave as mayor on May 15.   

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richardcorrente

I wish former Mayor Avedisian nothing but success in his new position as CEO of RIPTA, but let's not be fooled. When he was the Chairman of the Board at RIPTA, a position he held while he was supposed to be a full time Mayor, RIPTA's finances were destroyed. According to RIPTA's own financial statements ASSETS plummeted by $14,703,460. LIABILITIES soared by $79,579,486 and INCOME crashed by $2,554,279 ANNUALLY. That's $6,998 dollars A DAY! A DAY!!!

Only in political Rhode Island can someone perform that way and get rewarded with the CEO position.

And let's look at how THAT happened.

2012 - Chairman of the Board at RIPTA Scott Avedisian hires Ray Studley as CEO of RIPTA.

2017 - Mayor Avedisian hires Ray Studley as his Chief of Staff of Warwick. (November 2017)

2018 - Avedisian resigns to become the CEO of RIPTA, the very position he gave Studley. (April 2018, five months later)

Maybe that's just a coincidence. Maybe it's Rhode Island politics. One thing it's not. It's not my kind of politics. My kind of politics is to serve the taxpayers. I have never seen a piece of legislation, that has been worth the money it cost the taxpayer. Not one. Don't get me wrong (as I'm sure my critics will do). There are many necessary pieces of good legislation, but even the best of them, cost the taxpayer MORE than the legislation is worth. That's why I strongly believe in "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending". That's why I refer to myself as "The Taxpayers Mayor". I believe that the TAXPAYER should come first.

That may not be the Rhode Island politics way, but it has, and always will be, mine.

Happy Spring everyone.

Best of luck Mayor Avedisian.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Wednesday, May 16
CrickeeRaven

"My kind of politics is to serve the taxpayers."

False. The make-believe mayor wasted $40,000 in his losing effort in 2016, and among the few political contributions he received, the majority were from Democratic officials -- city councilors, school committee members, state representatives, and candidates outside of Warwick.

He therefore serves himself in a desperate attempt to divert attention away from his tax delinquencies and false statements, and Democratic party insiders.

- "That's why I strongly believe in 'Cut Taxes - Cut Spending.'"

False. The make-believe mayor has vocally supported the city council's decisions on the FY18 budget, which increased tax revenue, held the tax rate level, and increased spending by $6.5 million. He has frequently voiced his support for the budget, which counted on an unrealistic 99-percent tax collection rate and resulted a $4.2 million operating deficit, proving that he actually believes in short-term political expediency over responsible budgeting.

Wednesday, May 16
Scal1024

Rick, that is a coincidence!

That would be like a candidate for mayor owing taxes on their home (you), having someone else pay those taxes for them (Clayton Shackelton), and then that same candidate for mayor having their campaign headquarters (yours) stationed in a building owned by the same person who paid your taxes (Shackelton) rent free. Funny that you refuse to see the CORRUPT COINCIDENCE in that. Once again we have the lying fake mayor refuse to see the irony of what truly is wrong.

Wednesday, May 16
richardcorrente

Dear Scal1024,

Your comments are not a "coincidence" Scal. They are a lie.

But you already know that.

Happy Spring Scal.

Happy Spring everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, May 17
Scal1024

Rick, then why is there someone elses name listed as paying your back taxes? Its right there in print. Why don't you go visit the links provided by Captain and Crickee? Its right there in black and white. The only person who doesn't want to acknowledge this shady, dishonest behavior is YOU...but you already knew that, didn't you? You can continue to lie, but we will all be here to call you out. Whether that be here on this site, when you're loitering the Stop and Shop parking lot looking for signatures for your candidacy or whether you're waiving at traffic. The voters will know all about the lying, tax delinquent fraud you are...but again, YOU ALREADY KNEW THAT DIDN'T YOU? You fraud!

Thursday, May 17
CrickeeRaven

Hi Scal:

Here's a link that I've posted before that provides the facts that you note: https://warwickpost.com/gop-chair-files-election-board-complaint-against-corrente-for-failing-to-report-ad-hq-spending/

So, the make-believe mayor is actually lying himself when he calls this information "a lie." As we've seen many times, he seems to think that if he accuses someone else, it will excuse his own behavior.

Of course, as with nearly everything else he appears to believe, this is wrong. He is a candidate for office who is willingly and repeatedly seeking attention, complaining when that attention reveals things like his ethically questionable campaign finance activities, accusing others of lying when so many of his statements have been disproven, and continually using someone else's website for free political advertising.

He has had no actual, legitimate answer for the vast amount of factual information that has been uncovered and published about him -- and yet still somehow believes he is being taken seriously as a candidate. That is the very definition of "fraud," as you correctly term it.

Oh, and to his repeated statement about spending $40,000 on his losing 2016 campaign: He has loaned his campaign $800 and spent less than $900 since Jan. 1 [https://bit.ly/2IPHSau] -- whereas Acting Mayor Joe Solomon has put $100,000 into his campaign [https://bit.ly/2IrVHsd]. This shows that Mr. Solomon is already far ahead of the make-believe mayor in his efforts for the current campaign, which as far as anyone is concerned, is the only one that matters.

Thursday, May 17