RIPTA CEO Avedisian Steps Down After Drive-Thru Incident

 April 12, 2024

In a turn of events shaking the core of Rhode Island's public transport leadership, RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian has tendered his resignation.

Amidst shockwaves from a hit-and-run accident at a McDonald's drive-thru, Avedisian's decision to step down signifies an abrupt end to his six-year leadership of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA).

According to WPRI 12 News, Avedisian's resignation was formally submitted to Governor Dan McKee just before a clandestinely held RIPTA board meeting amid ongoing negotiations over his severance package. The timing and circumstances of his departure underscore turbulence at the transit authority and raise questions about its immediate future.

Peter Alviti headed the Department of Transportation and the RIPTA board and shared that discussions about Avedisian's exit terms are underway but remained tight-lipped about the details.

A harrowing drive-thru incident two weeks prior finds Avedisian at the center of a legal and ethical storm. Witnesses allege that the now-former CEO appeared under the influence during the mishap, although charges for driving while intoxicated have not been filed against him.

He pleaded not guilty to leaving the scene, and his legal representative, John Harwood, dismissed claims of Avedisian being inebriated as exaggerated.

A Legacy Overshadowed by Controversy

In his resignation letter, Avedisian touched on the achievements under his governance.

I regret that the good work of the employees is being detracted by my actions. Therefore, I respectfully submit my resignation and ask that the Board of Directors terminate my contract. Finally, many thanks for the years of friendship that we have enjoyed. I wish you all the best.

As the incident engulfs Avedisian's tenure in controversy, the conversation within the RIPTA board and amongst public officials shifts towards RIPTA's path forward. Avedisian’s leadership witnessed several improvement measures at RIPTA, but these successes are overshadowed by recent turmoil.

The Search for New Leadership

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio quickly called for a comprehensive search for Avedisian's successor.

He emphasized the importance of hiring an experienced transit professional to lead RIPTA through its present difficulties. Budget deficits and a shortage of drivers are among the issues that need urgent resolution.

The car involved in the hit-and-run, which led to Avedisian's resignation, bore the marks of the incident when found parked at his residence. Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha's office has taken up the probe into the matter, further intensifying the scrutiny of Avedisian's actions and decision-making.

A Course of Legal Proceedings

Avedisian's legal battles continue as he awaits his day in court, asserting his innocence against the allegations of evasive action post-collision. The portrayal by his legal counsel, John Harwood, as the accusation of intoxication being "a stretch" offers a glimpse into the defense's strategy and the contested nature of the narrative surrounding the night of the incident.

In conclusion, Scott Avedisian's abrupt end to his leadership of RIPTA amid a personal controversy reveals a tumultuous moment for the transportation authority. His resignation, shaped by a confluence of legal, ethical, and leadership considerations, sets the stage for what hopes to be a fresh chapter for RIPTA under new guidance. The focus now turns to the RIPTA board's next steps in selecting a leader capable of steering the agency through its present challenges and towards a resilient future.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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