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Friday, February 23, 2024

RIPTA approves 16.7% pay bump for drivers

The right thing to do and maybe it will ease driver shortage

By Christopher Shea, Rhode Island Current

Starting wages for Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA)’s bus drivers will increase 16.7% effective immediately.

RIPTA’s board of directors on Thursday unanimously approved a new contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 618 to raise drivers’ hourly base rates from $21.71 to $25.33. The collective bargaining agreement also includes a $1 per hour increase for the union’s top-paid drivers.

Thursday’s vote comes as the agency considers service cuts to half of its routes caused because it doesn’t have enough drivers. RIPTA’s three-year contract with the union is set to expire in June 2025, but the agency agreed to reopen it and negotiate new wages in order to attract and retain bus operators.

“This crucial wage increase benefits not only our drivers, but our passengers as well,” RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian said in a statement. “This will enable us to attract and retain drivers, ensuring that the public can rely on RIPTA to be there when the bus schedule says we are going to be there.”

The union is also hopeful the pay bump will bring people in.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for a while, hopefully this will prevent any service cuts,” ATU Secretary Treasurer Steven Souza said in an interview. “Now we have to work on the budget to get some ample funding for this place.”

Souza was referring to an $18.1 million budget shortfall RIPTA faces in the upcoming fiscal year.

RIPTA job fair

RIPTA is hosting its next job fair on Friday, March 15, 2024, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its headquarters at 705 Elmwood Ave., Providence. Applicants drop-in or sign up online at  All new bus operators receive up to eight weeks of paid training, including commercial driver license education and certification. 



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