Greater City Providence

ProJo: DOT seeks permission to move RIPTA commuter lot in North Kingstown


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RIDOT is still discussing merging the RIPTA park and ride at Routes 2 and 102 with the parking facility at Wickford Junction MBTA station, a mile away.

“The property’s highest and best use is not as a parking lot,” said Paul Carcieri, the DOT’s real estate specialist. “It’s a very valuable property.”

Approximately $1.9 million dollars valuable.

Committee members are concerned about whether moving the Park-n-Ride roughly a mile to Wickford Junction would make it less convenient to RIPTA users, whether bus riders who park at the MBTA garage would be guaranteed free parking as they get now and whether the garage operator would keep the facility open as needed by RIPTA users — on weekends, for instance.

Why are we still talking about this!? How many years and how many tens of millions of dollars did we spend building Wickford Junction Station, and in all of that spending and planning we couldn’t figure out how move a bus stop one mile to meet the train service? And 4 years later we still can’t figure it out! How stupid can we be?

And we can’t have RIPTA use the garage because of free parking!? FREE PARKING!? People in North Kingstown get a free place to leave their car and pay the same $2 to ride the bus all the way into Providence as I pay to ride the bus across town, and I don’t even ask the state to provide daycare for a car for that price.

Move the park and ride, have a bus shelter stop at the location of the old park and ride for the 1 person who might walk to that stop, charge people for parking, and sell the damn land.

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Last time we talked about this:


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.


  • Now isn’t that the best quote you’ve ever heard. You know about the parking lot.

  • Free parking = more people taking the bus. Also, I’m not sure I like the idea of adding 10 minutes to the 66 route, when it wouldn’t even benefit wickford.

    Keep in mind that entire area is surrounded by a sea of parking and drive-throughs. So moving the small piece of land that benefits transit seems like a net negative to me. I’m sure if they moved the park and ride, it would only be replaced by a drive-through.

  • If people in the suburbs are not willing to pay $4 for parking, we can eliminate their bus, have them drive to Providence and pay way more to park here, and redirect the resources spent on their bus to more buses here in the core.

  • Maybe if North Kingstown was zoned in a way that promoted walking and biking, there woudn’t be a need for a commuter lot. I’ve never been a huge fan of park and rides in the first place. Granted North Kingstown is mostly rural and low density in nature, It wouldn’t be harmful to focus development (preferably walkable development) near transit.

  • To be frank, I wouldn’t want 1.9 million dollars passing through the state’s hands, they would steal half and squander the rest, and don’t sit here saying “suburban” this and “suburban”that, that is a straw man argument, as if we’re all loaded…

  • I’m not comfortable with the State sitting on $1.9 million of free parking. I agree with Gio, that is one of the best quotes I’ve ever read about parking. My heart breaks that it is in reference to North Kingstown.

  • Call it “free” all you want, but in reality, if it’s the states, that means it’s already been paid for once, so at the moment all it really is is “public”, the way it should be, you’re welcome to come park in it anytime.

  • The buses are public too. Let’s make them “free” for all of us who are not in need of daycare for our cars.

  • Having frequented this area when I commuted to Newport from Providence, I had to verify the distance as the lot is basically adjacent to Wickford Junction. According to Google Maps, the distance is 0.5 miles. That’s not a huge difference in distance and quite frankly, if the commuters need to take the bus, they will drive that extra 1/2 mile to the parking lot. It makes perfect sense to fuse the two together.

    As RIPTA unveils the ticketing kiosks at Kennedy Plaza, could they institute the same at the Wickford Junction garage? Can the bottom level of the parking garage be allocated to RIPTA commuters? With proof of a pass, they can get their parking if it needs to be free. MBTA has also done away with the honor box program at their commuter lots, forcing all to pay the $4+ to park for the day.

    Charging $4 to park on top of $2 one way to Providence is not a deal breaker. Parking all day at $4 plus $4 roundtrip to/from Providence x 5 days per week is $40.00. Personally, I’d pay that instead of paying for my car’s gas, plus wear and tear on it, in addition to higher parking rates in downtown Providence. The cheapest rates downtown are the early bird specials at $8-10 during business hours.

    RIPTA should also look at making the garage more of a transit hub, adding more of their lines to Wickford Junction. For example, the #14 passes nearby, but both it and its express line don’t go to Wickford Junction. The #66 will be redirected the 0.5 mile. How about adding the #14 local and express to the Wickford Junction mix? Or how about adding a separate line altogether linking Newport to Wickford Junction? Wickford is the closest commuter rail station to Newport.

    If the state were to sell the land, North Kingstown has the right to place restrictions on the property. It is a very busy corner, with the traffic on 102 and nearby Rt.4, and the on/off-ramps from Rt. 4 being both across the street and adjacent. A drive-thru would not be wise at that location. There’s a Dunkin Donuts next door and a Starbucks across the street (set well within the parking lot). North Kingstown can encourage or even require that development be geared to something that will sit close to the corner, and with parking (because we know they need it down there) to the rear, away from the intersection.

  • This very unfriendly corridor is considered a bike route by RIDOT–I got a rude awakening the first time I tried that out! And I should say, the lycra-wearing people that dominates bike organizations in Rhode Island have not challenged RIDOT on this. If I were in any position to say so in RI Bike, I’d call a press conference and burn the RI bike map like so many Vietnam-era draft cards. Instead, the organized bike community embraces the map.

    The N. Kingstown community blocked a bike path from Wickford Village to Wickford Jct. That could be addressed–I don’t think communities should have the right to block bike facilities. Blocking bike facilities is like blocking bus routes. It should be a civil rights violation.

    The 66 would do well to be truncated at URI and run back and forth frequently from URI to the nearby villages, instead of having infrequent service to Providence. Most URI students (90%, according to the person I asked at the university) live either on-campus or in S. County, so having frequent service is more important locally than cross-state. In general, infill is needed, but URI would make a good place for rail because of its student population, and that could take up the slack to Providence, when built. Right now at certain points in the day the 66 is like every two hours, so shorter and frequent routes would make sense here.

  • James, there are far more people taking the bus from Providence to URI than people taking local trips. The 66 also doesn’t really pass through areas where many students live (especially north of URI). The 66 is also used by a lot of workers in the service industry along the route, so their incomes depend on the providence service.

    They really just need more frequent 66 service. It’s common for the bus to packed with people standing the entire length of the bus, while barreling down I-95. It’s dangerous.

    It would be great if a RIDOT commuter train could replace the bus for these long trips. But that’s a pipe dream.

  • Agree with those who think the parking lots should be combined at Wickford Jct. Is there a monthly pass for discoutned parking? Perhaps that can be offerred to those with a RIPTA monthly pass.

    But even worse as a higher and best abuse of land for parking is around the State House where there is plenty of good transit acess (4 bus lines plus the rail station) but you would never know it there, no bus shelter, no schedules distributed.

    Agree with James about the sad lack of a Wickford Jct – Wickford bike path to connect to the walkable village on the old rail right of way (why it was called “junction.”) It seems South County has lots of folks who object to distant oil pipelines but never promote energy saving bike transport in their region, we lost the old Jamestown Bridge due to that attitude. And they don’t care that URI paves over prime farmland for ever more parking that they give away “free” to all faculty and staff as they do in URI-Providence too (students too there) but no transit promotion.

    However, James is wrong about the 66 service, which on weekdays has about 23 trips between URI and Providencr each way More on Fridays) , no gap is miore than about an hour until after about 7:10 at night. This is way more than it used to be because of demand, in part because of the “one-state-one-rate” fare system that make long trips such a bargain while short trips are relatively expensive.

    By the way, RIPTA is holding community meetings on their fare policy study next week.

  • One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that I believe RIPTA may oppose this. Why? Because if you move it to Wickford Junction it’s just as easy to take the MBTA into Providence and beyond than it is to mess with RIPTA’s shitty scheduling.

  • When the goals of more better transit service and somehow making the garage seem like less of a folly are in conflict, I would go with more better service.

    The sunk cost of the garage is not a good reason to degrade the quality of bus travel. Lengthening trip times to detour in and out of Wickford Junction is a slap to those not riding by “choice” and will even cause some other choice riders who do not park at Wickford to say screw this.

    Why should people who drive to their bus stop get a much bigger subsidy than everyone eise?

  • Agreed, Andrew. I’m not totally opposed to getting rid of the parking lot, if RIDOT wants some quick cash. But detouring the bus would degrade the route.

  • One mile round-trip doesn’t even qualify as a detour. At the average travel speeds on that roadway at nearly all hours of the day, the total time added to the trip is three minutes. Maybe four if an exceptionally large number of people board at Wickford.

    The scheduled travel time from that Park and Ride to Kennedy Plaza is 37 minutes. You think anyone’s going to notice if tomorrow morning that turns into 41? Because I don’t.

    Also, the last time I checked, parking at Wickford Junction was still free in a vain attempt to get people to park there. If it is, in fact, still free, I would expect at this point that it will be free forever.

  • Co-locating the bus and rail stops is a benefit to commuters as it gives them mode option. They can take the train, but not be tied to the train’s schedule with the option of using the bus if they need to travel at a time the train is not running.

  • I do not have an easy answer to this one. Co-locating is a solid benefit.

    Easy to say, only 4 minutes, who is going to notice? I can not help noticing when instead of progressing toward my destination, we are stopped at lights, waiting to make left turns, watching passenger after passenger fumble with their fare card and ask the driver a question, waiting to pull back into traffic. I am a life long transit user and still, 4 minutes of that feels like 40 and makes me think taking the bus is so half assed, I could be halfway there if I was driving.

  • Andrrw is correct, there is a tradeoff. On balance I think consolidate is better, as Jef says, gives users more transportation otpions. Especially if RIPTA’s fare study results in cioordinated RIPTA-MBTA fare products. I note Worcester bus passengers can use mbta Charlie Cards, some Delaware buses can honor SEPTA passes, Amtrak recognizes some CT commuter products… – it can be done.

    Related to RIPTA fares, their Mon July 20 Board meeting is expected to set in motion a process to charge fares for the 28% or so of riders who now ride free. The Assembly’s recently passed budget repealed the requirement that lower income elderly and disabled passengers get free rides and allows RIPTA to charge them up to $1. They may do this as even with some additional budget support, RIPTA still faces a deficit of about $3 million or so in the fiscal year that started July 1, and higher deficits may be ahead. As the free riders are relatively well organized and have many sympathizers who see RIPTA as largely a charity for the poor, there may be protests. If successful, service cuts is an alternative, and I expect higher fares for at least the park and ride passengers such as at Wickford Jct.

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