Greater City Providence

PBN: URI looking to expand Providence presence

The University of Rhode Island plans to increase its presence in the state’s capital city, according to President David M. Dooley, as part of a strategy to better prepare its students for success as well as help Rhode Island’s economy grow out of the hole it is in.

Speaking at a Rhode Island Foundation media breakfast this morning, URI President Dooley among other things reiterated his desire to locate a joint URI/RIC nursing school in the Jewelry District and called expansion of Commuter Rail to South County ‘essential.’

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • I’ve heard that Roger Williams wants to do more in Providence too, although that clearly doesn’t include the space on Washington Street that is being rented out to a charter high school.

  • I think its a good thing to strengthen URI in Providence, but I note their regressive and anti-environment transportation policy which I understand is to, at great expense, provide free parking for faculty, staff, and students, while (unlike most of the private colleges) having no incentives to use transit, neither RIPTA nor the new commuter rail. This even though URI has good transit access from every direction. Thus it appears students who cannot afford a car and must use transit (or walk or bike) in effect subsidize those who drive, and we all suffer the resuting congestion and pollution.. Unles something has changed I don’t know about, it seems those who want to change this policy will have to go to the State House. (There is a lot of evidence that “free” parking kills transit ridership)

  • This even though URI has good transit access from every direction.

    RIPTA’s 64 bus does not qualify as good transit access, four round trips daily from Westerly (to a train station that’s 2 miles away) does not qualify as good transit access, the 1/2 mile, crosswalk-free and sidewalk-free walk from Wickford Junction to the Route 102&2 Park ‘n’ Ride does not qualify as good transit access, and having to ride a bus into Kennedy Plaza from Coventry or West Greenwich does not qualify as good transit access.

    So, no, URI does not have good transit access from every direction. URI has good transit access from Providence, fair to poor transit access from parts of Kent County, upper South County, and Woonsocket (plus, of course, Kingston Station itself), unacceptably bad transit access from Newport County and Westerly, and no transit access from the rest of the state.

    Yes, URI isn’t providing adequate incentives to utilize transit – but that’s because there isn’t adequate transit to utilize.

    Bring South County commuter rail online, reroute RIPTA’s #66 bus into Wickford Junction on a permanent basis, run feeder buses from Coventry/West Greenwich into Wickford Junction or URI, run buses along lower RI-3 and RI-138 into URI, and then we can have the conversation about how regressive and anti-transportation URI is.

  • Ryan, you are right that from some locations (such as Westerly) bus access to URI-Providence is relatively inconvenient, as it may be for anyone choosing to live far from a bus line. But 2000 census data indicated about 77% of RI lived within 1/2 mile of a bus line and for those, access to URI is mostly pretty good, including from the south which includes 28 buses/day each way each weekday on the #66 at very low fares, plus additional service on the #14 and the new commuter rail. Newport County actually has good service to Providence, about 45 each way on the #60 line.

    All these lines can be tweaked for better service, which RIPTA is considering as part of their COA (Comprehensive Operations Analysis) for which anyone can post commentas and suggestions by visiting – I hope Ryan will do this.

    In general, I think if we want to see better bus (or commuter rail) service, I think it is better to talk up where it is already pretty good rather than disparaging it overall.

    There about 12 colleges in RI with Upass programs including Brown, PC with much less convenient transit access since accessing their campus usually requires a transfer at Kennedy Plaza, yet they have greatly boosted ridership. There is no excuse for URI-Providence (where providng “free” parking is even more expensive) not to join them.

  • All these lines can be tweaked for better service, which RIPTA is considering as part of their COA (Comprehensive Operations Analysis) for which anyone can post commentas and suggestions by visiting – I hope Ryan will do this.

    Hope not – I was one of the first to comment. I am also in the process of composing a comprehensive system overhaul to be sent to RIPTA, outlining how to leverage the commuter rail we have NOW, and expand our services effectively based around it.

    URI’s Providence campus has good transit access. There was a miscommunication – I assumed you were referring to URI’s main campus in Kingston, for which all of my complaints remain valid.

  • All transit aside……
    The superman building would give URI a massive downtown blue print…
    Private Leases

  • That would certainly give the school a high-profile presence. Though being one of the most iconic buildings in the state and the tallest, it would probably be the weirdest location for a state university in the country.

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