Chapter 518

2007 -- H 6471

Enacted 10/30/07

 

A N A C T

RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS -- PUBLIC TRANSIT AUTHORITY

          

     Introduced By: Representatives Pacheco, and Fox

     Date Introduced: May 31, 2007    

 

It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:

 

     SECTION 1. Sections 39-18-3 and 39-18-4 of the General Laws in Chapter 39-18

entitled "Rhode Island Public Transit Authority" are hereby amended to read as follows:

 

     39-18-3. Purpose of the authority Purposes of the authority. (a) It shall be the

purposes of the authority to:

     (1) provide public transit services that meet mobility needs of the people of the state,

including the elderly and disabled;

     (2) increase access to employment opportunities;

     (3) connect different modes of public transportation, including rail, air and water

services;

     (4) promote community design that features public transit services as defining elements

of a community;

     (5) facilitate energy conservation and efficient energy use in the transportation sector by

providing public transit services; and

     (6) mitigate traffic congestion and enhance air quality.

     (b) It shall further be the purpose of the authority to own and operate a mass motor bus,

water, or rail passenger transportation system and to manage, to coordinate and to perform

vehicle maintenance for a state paratransit system. Whenever any operator of a mass motor bus,

water, or rail passenger transportation system files with the public utilities administrator a petition

to discontinue any service, it is the purpose and function of the authority to determine if it is in

the public interest to discontinue that service. If it is determined that it is not in the public interest

to discontinue that service, the authority is authorized and empowered to acquire all or any part of

the transit property, or any interest therein, of the system.

 

     39-18-4. Powers of the authority Powers and duties of the authority. (a) The

authority is hereby authorized and empowered:

      (1) To adopt bylaws for the regulation of its affairs and the conduct of its business;

      (2) To adopt an official seal and alter the seal at pleasure;

      (3) To maintain an office at such place or places within the state as it may designate;

      (4) To sue and be sued in its own name, plead and to be implead; provided, however,

that any and all actions against the authority shall be brought only in the county in which the

principal office of the authority shall be located;

      (5) To acquire, purchase, hold, use, and dispose of any property, real, personal, or mixed,

tangible or intangible, or any interest therein necessary or desirable for carrying out the purposes

of the authority, and, to lease as lessee or lessor any property, real, personal or mixed, or any

interest therein for such term and at such rental as the authority may deem fair and reasonable,

and to sell, transfer, convey, mortgage, or give a security interest in any property, real, personal,

or mixed, tangible or intangible, or any interest therein, at any time acquired by the authority;

      (6) To employ, in its discretion, planning, architectural, and engineering consultants,

attorneys, accountants, construction, financial, transportation, and traffic experts and consultants,

superintendents, managers, and such other officers, employees, and agents as may be necessary in

its judgment, and to fix their compensation;

      (7) (i) To fix from time to time, subject to the provisions of this chapter, schedules and

such rates of fare and charges for service furnished or operated as in its judgment are best adopted

to insure sufficient income to meet the cost of service; provided, however, the authority is not

empowered to operate a passenger vehicle under its control in competition with passenger

vehicles of a private carrier over routes which the private carrier operates pursuant to a certificate

of public convenience and necessity issued to the private carrier by the division of public utilities

and carriers; and provided further that the authority shall not require any person who meets the

means test criteria as defined by the Rhode Island Department of Elderly Affairs and who is

either sixty-five (65) years of age, or over, or who is disabled to pay any fare or charge for bus

rides during peak hours; provided, however, that such exclusion for fares or charges shall not

apply: (A) to special service routes and (B) during periods and routes of overcrowded conditions.

Any person who is either sixty-five (65) years of age, or over, or who is disabled, and who meets

the means test criteria as heretofore provided, shall not be required to pay any fare or charge for

bus rides during off-peak hours, and any person who is either sixty-five (65) years of age, or over,

or who is disabled, and who does not satisfy the means test criteria as heretofore provided, shall

only be required to pay one-half (1/2) of the fare or charge for bus rides during off-peak hours.

For the purposes of this chapter, "overcrowded conditions," "peak hours," "off-peak hours" and

"special service routes" shall be determined annually by the authority. The authority shall

establish an advisory committee comprised of seniors/persons with disabilities constituent users

of the authority's services to assist in the implementation of this section;

      (ii) Any person who accompanies and is assisting a person with a disability when the

person with a disability uses a wheelchair shall be eligible for the same price exemptions

extended to a person with a disability by subsection (7)(i). The cost to the authority for providing

the service to the elderly shall be paid by the state;

      (iii) Any person who accompanies and is assisting a passenger who is blind or visually

impaired shall be eligible for the same price exemptions extended to the passenger who is blind or

visually impaired by subsection (7)(i). The cost to the authority for providing the service to the

elderly shall be paid by the state;

      (iv) The authority shall be authorized and empowered to charge a fare for any paratransit

services required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. section 12101 et seq., in

accordance with 49 C.F.R. Part 37.

      (8) To borrow money and to issue bonds of the authority for any of its purposes

including, without limitation, the borrowing of money in anticipation of the issuance of bonds or

the receipt of any operating revenues or other funds or property to be received by the authority,

and the financing of property to be owned by others and used, in whole or substantial part, by the

authority for any of its purposes, all as may from time to time, be authorized by resolution of the

authority; the bonds to contain on their face a statement to the effect that neither the state nor any

municipality or other political subdivision of the state shall be obligated to pay the same or the

interest thereon;

      (9) To enter into management contracts for the operation, management, and supervision

of any or all transit properties under the jurisdiction of the authority, and to make and enter into

all contracts and agreements necessary or incidental to the performance of its duties and the

execution of its powers under this chapter;

      (10) Without limitation of the foregoing, to borrow money from, to receive and accept

grants for or in aid of the purchase, leasing, improving, equipping, furnishing, maintaining,

repairing, constructing, and operating of transit property, and to enter into contracts, leases, or

other transactions with any federal agency; and to receive and accept from the state, from any

municipality, or other political subdivision thereof, and from any other source, aid or

contributions of either money, property, labor, or other things of value, to be held, used and

applied only for the purposes for which the grants and contributions may be made;

      (11) To acquire in the name of the authority, by negotiated purchase or otherwise, on

such terms and conditions and in such manner as it may deem proper, or by the exercise of the

power of condemnation to the extent only and in the manner as provided in this chapter, such

public and private lands, including public parks, playgrounds or reservations, or parts thereof, or

rights therein, rights-of-way, property rights, easements, and interests as it may deem necessary

for carrying out the provisions of this chapter; provided, however, that all public property

damaged in carrying out the powers granted by this chapter shall be restored or repaired and

placed in its original condition as nearly as practicable;

      (12) To contract with any municipality, public or private company or organization,

whereby the authority will receive a subsidy to avoid discontinuance of service, and each

municipality within the state is hereby authorized to make and enter into such contracts and to

make, grant, or give to the authority a subsidy in such amount and for such period of time as it

may deem advisable;

      (13) To operate service to nearby Massachusetts and nearby Connecticut terminals for

the purpose of deboarding Rhode Island passengers at major traffic generating locations for the

benefit of passengers and to board Rhode Islanders for the return trip, provided, however, that the

authority operate closed door in Massachusetts and nearby Connecticut to and from its

destination; and

      (14) To do all things necessary, convenient, or desirable to carry out the purpose of this

chapter.

     (b) To effectuate the purposes of this chapter the authority shall have the following

duties:

     (1) To participate in and contribute to transportation planning initiatives that are relevant

to the purposes of the authority;

     (2) To plan, coordinate, develop, operate, maintain and manage a statewide public transit

system consistent with the purposes of the authority, including plans to meet demands for public

transit where such demand, current or prospective, exceeds supply and/or availability of public

transit services;

     (3) To work with departments, agencies, authorities and corporations of federal, state and

local government, public and private institutions, businesses, non-profit organization, users of the

system and other entities and persons to coordinate public transit services and provide a seamless

network of mobility options.

 

     SECTION 2. Chapter 39-18 of the General Laws entitled "Rhode Island Public Transit

Authority" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

 

     39-18-1.1. Findings. It is hereby found and declared as follows:

     (1) Rhode Island has had a long and rich legacy of providing public transit services that

contribute to the fabric of the state;

     (2) Public transit continues to evolve and can play increasingly important roles in the

future;

     (3) Public transit services provide benefits to the quality of communities by curtailing

energy consumption, helping people participate in their communities by offering mobility

options, defining spaces and promoting sound urban design, and linking activity centers to

support social networks;

     (4) Pedestrian access and safety is crucial to supporting public transit services;

     (5) One of the values of an improved public transit system is the generation of investment

and wealth in areas served by the system;

     (6) The state's public transit system should provide a variety of mobility options for

people that include services for people with special needs, and services to tourism destinations,

employment and retail centers, education institutions and other modes of transportation including

rail, air and water transportation services;

     (7) The use of technology is vital for making informed decisions about existing and

future public transit services and for providing efficient, user responsive public transit; and

     (8) The state in partnership with local communities should support the legacy of public

transit services in Rhode Island and improve, expand and augment that system to meet the needs

of the people in the twenty-first (21st) century.

 

     SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon passage.

     

=======

LC03209

=======