NARRAGANSETT – Although the state Division of Public Utilities and Carriers approved plans by a new company, Rogue Island Jitney to run a shuttle service between the URI campus and several bars in Narragansett, opposition amounts. Both URI and State Sen. James C. Sheehan, D-Narragansett, North Kingstown are challenging the PUC's decision.
At the public hearing held Jan. 4, those in opposition, including Narragansett Deputy Police Chief Gerald Driscoll and South Kingstown police's Lieutenant Paul J. Horoho and representatives from URI expressed their belief that the jitney service would become a pub crawl that would allow students to leave campus and purchase alcohol at bars and restaurants in town.
However, the Public Utilities Commission ruled in favor of Combies, stating that the service would not constitute a pub crawl. Under current state law, a pub crawl is defined as a service offering tickets, promotions, advertising or other means to move 50 or more people at once.
The PUC also said it does not believe URI has any authority over where the vans would stop on the URI campus, but that the Board of Governors may have authority to deny use of campus streets for this purpose. However, the PUC said even if the Board of Governors has the authority to deny Combies' proposed stop on Fraternity Circle, that is not a reason to deny the applicant who has proven fitness and public convenience and necessity and that they would allow Combies to establish a stop on the nearest state roadway to Fraternity Circle.
Adam Joseph Combies, a co-founder and lawyer for the law firm Combies Hanson, had his application for establishing the jitney service, Rogue Island Jitney approved by the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers after a public hearing on Jan. 4. The jitney route would begin at Fraternity Circle in Kingston and drop passengers off at local establishments like Charlie O's Tavern, Hammerhead Grill and the Coast Guard House.
Now, the University of Rhode Island is appealing the PUC decision in Superior Court.
“The University attorney has spoken to the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education and got their support to appeal the decision by the PUC,” Jason Pina, assistant vice president of student affairs at URI said.
Pina said under state law, they have 30 days to file an appeal from the date of the Jan. 13 decision.
For more information pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.