Greater City Providence

Kennedy Plaza bus stops to re-open January 17, 2015


[box style=”alert”]Kennedy Plaza re-opens this Saturday, check where to find your new bus stop. Winter service schedules also go into effect on Saturday, visit RIPTA to see your schedule.[/alert]


RIPTA Announces January Reopening of Kennedy Plaza Transit Hub in Downtown Providence

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) will welcome passengers back to the newly-renovated Kennedy Plaza transit hub on Saturday, January 17, officials announced Tuesday.

The plaza has been closed since the summer as RIPTA and the City of Providence worked to enhance the safety and aesthetics of the plaza located in front of Providence City Hall. The enhancements – which include new lighting, improved signage and trees – will make it safer and easier for passengers to make their bus connections while also creating a pedestrian-friendly plaza in downtown Providence.

RIPTA staff will be reaching out to riders and distributing information on the new bus stop locations between now and the January reopening.

While some earlier projections had targeted late fall for the plaza reopening, the work took longer than initially expected and there were also some design modifications made during the process.

“When passengers and pedestrians see the new plaza, we think that they’ll feel it was worth the wait,” said Barbara Polichetti, Director of Public Affairs for RIPTA. “What once was a congested traffic area is now a plaza with trees, easy-to-read signs, and plenty of room for bus passengers and pedestrians alike,” she said. “We really appreciate the patience of our riders, the public and surrounding businesses.”

Initial funding for the project came from approximately $1.7 million in bond money that the City of Providence had for its downtown circulator plan, plus an estimated $700,000 from a federal “Bus Livability” grant obtained by RIPTA.

It has been more than a decade since major changes have been made to Kennedy Plaza, and the impetus for the current project came in part from the City and other downtown partners’ vision for the greater Kennedy Plaza area.

Under Mayor Angel Taveras’ leadership, the city wanted to make the plaza more appealing and also capitalize on its key location in the heart of Providence, adjacent to City Hall and Burnside Park.

“The transformation of Kennedy Plaza into a revitalized public square will benefit all those who visit, live and work in our city,” said Mayor Taveras. “The City of Providence sees this new, public space as essential to creating a more vibrant city, and we look forward to welcoming back RIPTA riders in the new year.”

The plaza improvements involved removing two narrow bus lanes and repaving the area as a contiguous pedestrian space, installing new lighting and new bus shelters and planting Honey Locust and Valley Forge American Elm trees.

New passenger amenities include 13 three-sided shelters which will better shield waiting riders from inclement weather. Large, lighted “lollipop” signs will make it easy for passengers to find their bus stops and they will be augmented by other signs and route maps.

There is upgraded security with the reconfiguration of the network of cameras that RIPTA maintains in the area. The Authority will also improve maintenance of the busy location and has plans to extend the hours of its customer service center there.

Other enhancements for RIPTA riders will include the installation of automated ticket vending machines and the use of technology to track buses in real time so that passengers will be able to see the actual arrival and departure times posted on digital boards at the plaza.

Don Rhodes, volunteer president of the RIPTA Riders Alliance and a passenger for more than 25 years, said that the group was disappointed by the delayed opening, but “we understand the need to be sure that the project is completed correctly, especially in regard to passenger shelters.”

Polichetti noted that with RIPTA providing more than 20 million passenger trips statewide last year, the plaza had become crowded and the new design gives riders more room and makes using the transit hub an overall better experience.

“We’re very excited for our passengers,” Polichetti said. “It will be easier for them to find their bus stops and they will have more room on a safe pedestrian plaza. “We’re also looking forward to bringing them more improvements in the state’s transit infrastructure in the future, particularly now that voters have approved a $35 million bond which will allow us to work on other locations.”



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  • With winter coming on, it is indeed disappointing that there is still another delay. Some of the temporaey stops are quite exposed (such as all the stops alog the empty triangle north of the Post Office.)
    Lets hope this works out as well as supporters hope, RIPTA certainly seems to be trying to make the best of it. But the stops on Exchange Terrace are further from the terminal building and its facilities, and it seems the #60 Newport buses will have a significantly slower and more convoluted route thru the city to get to its stop. Why not put it back where it was across from the Post Office?
    Also, anyone know what facility will, or should, replace the coffee shop operation in the terminal building?

  • How about the associated Kennedy Plaza upgrades to Burnside Park and beyond? Is anyone aware of a timeline for those areas?

  • Kind of sad to see how far apart the 27, 28 stop is from the 17, 19 stop. Olneyville is an important and high traffic area right? It’d be nice for people going down that way to have the option to easily choose between those four buses next to each other. Maybe I’m spoiled for living between Broadway and Westminster but it’s nice to have the option between 4 buses, too bad they set the plaza up so it’s too inconvenient to be able to choose between the four, now I’ll have to pick one or the other.

  • Second on the 27/28 17/19 comment, although my opinion has always been that those buses should be combined into one route, rather than four. But definitely having the stops located near each other at KP would be a step towards making them operate that way.

  • I had the same problem with the 92 and 27/28 with the old design as I live between Broadway and Atwells. The layout of the stops cannot accommodate every rider’s service needs.

    The rest of Plaza is an iterative design process that will happen over the coming years as opportunities for funding present themselves. Also, each change to the area should come with a pause between them for assessment, that is part of the plan. How does the Plaza area change with this new design? Let’s see before we invest too much time and money building anything else. Perhaps something we were planning to build in another corner is answered by this new design, and so on.

    That said, concurrently, a new pathway is being constructed through Burnside from the corner of Exchange and Exchange to about the mid-way point of the main plaza area (to align with a crosswalk there). This will provide a more direct route through the park from the buses in the Plaza to Exchange and beyond to the train station. The new path also reduces the slope across the park allowing for a gentler climb for wheelchairs and such. It will feature a new seating area around the Burnside statue.

  • Is there any information available on plans to increase security and survelliance cameras in Kennedy Plaza? It’s my understanding that the cameras that are there are not actually operational, which is totally unacceptable.

  • Sorry to be the Debby Downer, but it just seems to be more of the same, some new fixtures and some modern looking bus hubs. I’m disappointed that we continue to foster this idea that the spoke-and-wheel model of transit in RI works, it hasn’t, it doesn’t.

    I understand having to evaluate certain functions before moving ahead on others, though it just seems like we’re spending more on money, resources and public aggravations then just doing it all right the first time. How many studies, charrettes and redesigns do we have to do just to make this thing work already?

    And although my comments are preliminary, and I do understand the wider scope of these projects, a lot of people do not. Nearly $400,000 for a glorified pathway through Burnside Park, does not a gateway make nor do leaving bus shelters as currently being installed make for a civic plaza.

    Just another head shaking moment.

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