PROVIDENCE, RI – Seeking to help the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) modernize its infrastructure and improve service for passengers, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced a new $3,280,000 grant for major maintenance projects at RIPTA’s primary facility in Providence.  The federal funding is being awarded through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) FY2018 Buses and Bus Facilities Infrastructure Investment Program. 

The grant will enable RIPTA to make much-needed repairs to its 107,000-square foot Chafee Maintenance Facility, located  on Elmwood Avenue in Providence.  The grant will help rehabilitate the roof and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system in the building where most of RIPTA’s bus maintenance is done.  It will also help RIPTA, which handles all of its own vehicle work, to buy new bus lifts to help the agency perform everything from oil changes to engine overhauls and body work.

“No transit system can function without a safe and reliable vehicle fleet.  Fixing RIPTA’s primary maintenance facility will ensure that Rhode Islanders can continue to count on a dependable and accessible public transportation system,” said Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD).  “I congratulate RIPTA on receiving these funds and look forward to seeing the new facilities continue to effectively and efficiently serve Rhode Islanders.”  

Reed worked to increase funding for the Bus and Bus Facility grant program in the 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill enacted in March, and provided a total of $400 million in the Senate-passed bill this year.

“Every day we need a specific number of buses to be ready to roll so we can meet our schedule and serve the public, and we rely on our maintenance facility and our maintenance crews to make sure that happens,” said Scott Avedisian, CEO of RIPTA.  “This building is in need of some critical work, and without this grant we weren’t sure how we were going to be able to make these capital improvements.  We are grateful to Senator Reed for supporting this important funding request and making sure that a vital maintenance facility remains operational and in a state of good repair.”

Built in 2001, the $20 million facility provides maintenance and support for RIPTA’s fixed route fleet and provides routine services and repair for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT). 

Most of the funding will go toward the replacement of 22 system lifts at the facility, consisting of 9 drive-on lifts and 13 twin-post lifts.  The drive-on lifts will be refurbished and loaded with modern control systems to ensure safer and more accurate operations.  The twin-post lifts will be replaced with scissor-style lifts, which is a design better suited for RIPTA’s operations.  The existing lifts require frequent repairs and are often unavailable for use in maintenance operations, degrading the performance of the maintenance department and the amount of buses available for service.

The $3.28 million grant will cover 80 percent of the roughly $4.1 million cost of making the necessary repairs, with RIPTA providing the 20-percent local match.  The Chafee facility has 22 vehicle lifts capable of handling buses and other heavy duty vehicles as RIPTA also performs repairs on some state trucks and heavy duty vehicles.  New reporting requirements from the FTA require that transit authorities assess the condition of their assets and determine what steps are need to make sure that these public assets remain in a state of good repair.  

RIPTA annually provides 16.5 million transit trips on a network of fixed route, flex zone, and paratransit services throughout Rhode Island, operating 230 fixed route vehicles and 130 paratransit vans.  RIPTA’s passenger facilities are located in historic centers in Providence, Pawtucket, and Newport.