As a part of transportation for students, the University of Rhode Island has a contract with Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) that provides shuttles around campus for students to use. Over the years, a myth has circulated in variations about what exactly happens to a student if he or she is hit by one of the RIPTA shuttles.
Students disagree over whether free tuition is given, and over how many semesters, as well as how else the university accommodates students academically, such as giving out 4.0s. Stephen Baker, the director of Public Safety for URI, has the real answer to this myth’s truth.
“We would file an accident report, and I’m sure RIPTA has their own insurance,” said Baker. “So the victim in the accident, the person walking, would get a copy of the report, and RIPTA would get a copy of the report. And from there it’s pretty much out of our hands, we would probably also notify our Safety and Risk Manager as [there] may be some insurance implications for the university, but for the most part RIPTA has its own insurance.”
So the moral of the story is that the reparations for being struck by a RIPTA shuttle while walking across campus are not under URI’s jurisdiction. URI officials would only be involved at the level of reporting and investigating the accident itself, since it would have occurred on school grounds.
“It’s considered a motor vehicle accident, and we would investigate it like any other motor vehicle accident,” said Baker. “But because it’s a state vehicle we would probably also notify the state police, [and] they may want to come down and investigate it.”
Though the RIPTA shuttle drivers are paid by the university, as a part of URI’s contract with RIPTA, it is up to RIPTA to be responsible for the drivers while they are working on campus.
“[The drivers] are hired by RIPTA, [so] they have their own supervisors,” said Baker. “Sometimes they have a supervisor on campus, or other times there’s a supervisor on call, so they could be different people on different days.”
If students do have complaints about the shuttles’ drivers, they can bring them to the campus police or Parking Services, but these offices would simply forward the complaints on to the RIPTA supervisors.
“I got to say [that] I don’t recall too many of these incidents,” said Baker, “I can’t think of any recently. There may have been some [incidents] a while ago, but I’ve been here 10 years and I just can’t think of any. I mean we’ve had pedestrians hit by cars, but I don’t recall anything with RIPTA.”