By Tom Deighan
It used to be a good slice of the pie. Do you remember the days of Pell, Pastore and John Chaffee? When the State budget was tight, all of a sudden federal funds were there. Today, it is a different story. Sometimes the city or business has to find it’s own answer to this problem.
Ripta is one example of this situation. Over the years the federal money would be there and then it would be eliminated. On October 4, 2010 Ripta introduced new hybrid buses and hybrid trolleys. They are powered by clean diesel hybrid electrical propulsion systems, that reduce emissions, save fuel, and are smoother and quieter than conventional buses or trolleys.
They run off gas and batteries. This not only reduces air pollution, but noise pollution as well, which improves the environment for Rhode Islanders.
The new trolleys were manufactured by Gillig bus in partnership with Cable Car Classics. The price tag was $696,959.50. Federal Transit Administration grants funded the base cost of the trolley, while the American Recovery & Investment Act covered the incremental cost of the hybrid Propulsion system.
A 20 percent local match was provided by State General Obligation Bonds. The buses were funded by various Federal Transit Administration Grants, Rhode Island Bonds and ARIA funds as stated above. Each bus costs $625,085. They found a good slice of the pie.
Pawtucket found a different approach to deal with the loss of federal funds. Pawtucket has a plan to redesign downtown. This involves reconnecting historic turnpikes that lead in and out of the city and revamp roads to better accommodate bikes and pedestrians. It will have a mass transit hub on Exchange St.
A greener downtown, improved parking and modifying zoning to encourage economic development should bring in more people. The original turnpike roads were designed when Pawtucket was a center of commerce and it provided a link to Providence, Boston, and New York. Part of this work is a RI Department of Transporation project.
After a few phone calls Pawtucket Planning called me. Barney Heath gave me the funding Information. $80,000 grant from Statewide Planning, $20,000 divided between the Pawtucket Foundation and city of Pawtucket Community Development Block Grant.