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National Dump The Pump Day – June 18, 2015

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From RIPTA:


On June 18, 2015, American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and public transportation systems across the country will celebrate the 10th Annual National Dump the Pump Day.

In these tough economic times with high gas prices, everyone is looking for a way to save money. National Dump the Pump Day encourages people to ride public transportation (instead of driving) and save money.

Riding public transit is an economical way to save money, particularly when gas prices are high. The latest APTA Transit Savings Report shows that a two person household that downsizes to one car can save – on the average – more than $9,569 a year.

However, public transportation doesn’t just help people save money, it also helps communities grow and prosper. For example, for every $1 invested in public transportation, $4 is returned in economic returns. Mayors know that communities with public transportation are more competitive. So, riding public transportation helps people and their communities!

Upload a photo of yourself showing how you dumped the pump with the hashtag #DumpThePumpRI and you’ll be entered to win a RIPTA prize pack.
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Barry Schiller: Rhode Works – $4.8 Billion for Rhode Island Transportation

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The crumbling Warren Avenue bridge in East Providence was recently replace. Image from RIDOT

Barry Schiller, a retired Rhode Island College math professor, is a long-time member of the State Planning Council’s Transportation Advisory Committee. He also was on the RIPTA Board of Directors 1995-1999.

What is your 10 year vision for transportation in Rhode Island? The Governor and her new RIDOT leaders propose their answer on the home page of the RIDOT website where there is a link to a 10 year $4.8 billion transportation plan called “Rhode Works.” This is about $1.1 billion more than current funding levels. A $700 million revenue bond is proposed for funding “replacement, reconstruction, and maintenance” of state bridges, the bond to be paid back by tolls on large commercial trucks crossing some bridges on Routes 95, 195, 295, 146, and 6/10. $400 million is set aside for the Route 6/10 bridges. There is a goal to reduce the percentage of our deficient bridges from about 22% to 10%. There will be a hearing on the proposed tolls at House Finance on Tuesday evening June 2.

Another $400 million to fund Rhode Works is from seeking $400 million in federal “New Start” transit funds. Rhode Works promises a “new commitment to provide increased bus and rail services.” The only specific transit project mentioned is an express bus lane on Routes 6/10. Rhode Works also promises “funding for bike lanes and accessible sidewalks.” There is no mention of bike paths.

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RIPTA online fare survey

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From RIPTA:


RIPTA Launches Online Transit Fare Survey

Survey Available Through May 1, 2015

Is it easy for passengers to buy tickets and passes to ride the bus? Do we offer the types of fare products they are looking for? The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) wants to know how passengers feel about their fare pricing and products, and is inviting their passengers to take their Transit Fare Study Survey. It is available on RIPTA’s website now through May 1, 2015. Also, copies of the survey are available at the customer service window at Kennedy Plaza and our Commuter Resource Team will be making it available to passengers at various locations, including some Park ‘n Ride commuter lots.

RIPTA is conducting the survey as it embarks on a comprehensive transit fare study that will review all fare products as well as the rates that are charged. One of the main goals of the study – which is expected to take about four months – is to determine if RIPTA is offering the types of fare products that best meet passengers’ needs.

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RIPTA Comprehensive Fare Study

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RIPTA is launching a comprehensive fare study to evaluate the types of fare products the agency offers (online re-chargable debit style card please). They will be having public meetings to gather input.

From RIPTA:


RIPTA Launches Comprehensive Fare Study

First Round of Community Meetings Scheduled for April 14th

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is embarking on a transit fare study that will review all fare products it offers as well as the rates that are charged. One of the main goals of the study – which is expected to take about four months ­– is to determine if RIPTA is offering the types of fare products (such as all-day passes, or 15-ride passes) that best meet passengers’ needs.

The RIPTA Board of Directors awarded the contract for the study to LTK Engineering Services of Ambler, Pennsylvania in the amount of approximately $170,500 at its February Board Meeting. “This really will be an in-depth look into how passengers use fares in our system today,” said Amy Pettine, Executive Director of Planning at RIPTA. “We’re going to be looking at what types of fare products and sales locations might make it easier for people to use RIPTA. And we’re also going to be looking at overall issues such as whether we should continue to be ‘one state, one rate’ as well as how we can use fares to create easier connections to commuter rail.”

“This study is also going to give us chance to look at what we may want to offer in the future to take advantage of the latest fare technology like mobile payments and hopefully attract some new riders to our system,” she said.

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Your ‘Charlie Card’ could soon take you further

fares-charlieThe Rhode Island General Assembly is considering a bill to allow the MBTA’s farecard, the Charlie Card, to work on RIPTA:

SECTION 1. Chapter 39-18 of the General Laws entitled “Rhode Island Public Transit Authority” is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

39-18-25. Create parity with MBTA commuter passes. – The authority shall consult with the Massachusetts Bay transit authority on the feasibility of allowing commuter rail passes to be used on all Rhode Island public transit authority buses. Such rail passes shall serve as dual Rhode Island public transit authority passes and Massachusetts Bay transit authority passes, if possible. Such consultation shall also include proposed methods to apportion and share the costs of such passes between the two (2) authorities.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.

I know RIPTA has wanted to crack this nut for some time, with the official blessing of the Assembly, let’s hope they find a way to figure it out. Anything to make utilizing transit easier is a good thing.

h/t to ecoRI News’s Tim Faulkner
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Traffic changes coming to Exchange Terrace

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From the City:


Changes to Traffic Pattern around Kennedy Plaza Beginning December 22

The City of Providence today announced upcoming changes to the traffic pattern on Exchange Terrace. Beginning Monday morning, December 22, Exchange Terrace (East Approach to Exchange Street) will be changed to accommodate 2-way traffic. The remainder of Exchange Terrace will allow two-way traffic later in 2015 when improvements to Emmitt Square are completed.

In preparation for this change, the southern portion of Exchange Terrace (East Approach to Exchange St.) will be barreled off Thursday morning, December 18, to allow westbound traffic to become used to driving on the northern part of Exchange Terrace prior to the switch.

There is a variable message board facing the westbound approach at the Exchange Street/Steeple St. intersection alerting motorists of the change in traffic pattern.

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

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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.

From RIPTA:


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.”

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RIDOT: Rhode Island’s Transit Future

One of the most crucial components of a healthy economy and quality of place is a sound transportation system: one that supports diverse modes of travel and seamlessly connects Rhode Island to the rest of the world – and Rhode Islanders, more meaningfully to each other and to opportunity.

Since I’m a big geek I watch videos like this and visit websites extolling the virtues of various transit systems around the world and I think to my self, ‘our system really sucks.’

Then I see a shiny video showcasing our system and I wonder if all those other cities just have really good videographers hiding the suckitude of their systems.

I think it is half and half; half our system sucks compared to others, and half other systems suck too but are good at publicity. Look at how the Interlink is described in that video, it sounds good, but it is not really there yet. There are a number of factors why, there’s really no there there at Warwick Station, it is not really a destination other than the airport (regardless of what this video is trying to sell us about the area). Rhode Islanders really still love their cars. There’s a chicken and egg about not enough riders so not enough service and not enough service so not enough riders, etc.

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ProJo: R.I.’s Question 6 designed to fund reconnection of train, bus service in Providence

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A new transportation hub at Providence Station could be built in part over the tracks next to the station.

In a joint application for a federal grant to advance planning for the “Providence Station Transit Center,” RIPTA and RIDOT highlighted how 15 acres of undeveloped land sit right next to the train depot.

Following a news conference that the coalition organized in October to promote Question 6, transportation director Michael Lewis walked to the edge of Railroad Street to point out the largely vacant land. A covered station could be built, possibly in tandem with commercial real estate, he said.

He envisioned the possibility of putting decking over the railroad tracks to allow for development overhead, much like the construction of Providence Place mall and the train station.

“You could have pretty substantial development here,” he said.

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RIPTA Bus Hub Alternatives Community Meeting in Pawtucket – October 28, 2014

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From RIPTA:


The City of Pawtucket Department of Planning will be holding a meeting to discuss potential alternatives to the existing Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) bus hub on Roosevelt Avenue. The Department has been working with a consultant, RIPTA and key stakeholders to identify potential alternative stop locations for the ten RIPTA routes that currently begin and end at the 175 Main Street location. The public is invited to attend the City of Pawtucket Hub Relocation Study meeting on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 6:00pm in the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center Theatre at 175 Main Street, Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

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RIPTA: Downtown Transit 2.0

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As RIPTA prepares to introduce its new R-Line rapid bus service next month, and reroute some buses in September based on the recent Comprehensive Operational Analysis, the agency is also planning for how to operate in Downtown Providence in the future.

Ideas for the future include physical improvements to Kennedy Plaza and the creation of two new bus hubs, one at Providence Train Station, the other behind the Garrahy Courthouse off Dorrance Street.

Information from RIPTA on the recent studies they have undertaken:


RIPTA has commissioned several recent studies to seek ways to improve the transit experience for Rhode Islanders. Rising ridership and the need to provide service that best meets demand in our state has driven recent evaluations of RIPTA’s operations, including the Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA). As almost all RIPTA routes access Kennedy Plaza, it is expected that operations at this location would be more closely studied. RIPTA, in partnership with the RI Department of Transportation and RI Statewide Planning, is conducting a downtown transit improvement study, Downtown Transit 2.0, to evaluate whether the introduction of additional downtown Providence transit stations could improve service for existing riders, enhance downtown accessibility and mobility, and resolve operational and passenger experience issues at Kennedy Plaza.

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RIPTA R-Line Schedules Posted

r-line-002RIPTA’s new R-Line rapid bus service will replace and combine the current Route 99 service North Main – Pawtucket and 11 Broad Street services. The new service is set to launch on June 21st and RIPTA has published the schedules for the new service.

One notable service change is that North Main service will run via Providence Station, providing direct services between the station and Kennedy Plaza and serving communities along North Main Street to Pawtucket and south along Broad Street to the Cranston line.

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PBN: ‘Rapid bus’ lines part of new development districts

Providence is encouraging transit-oriented development in two neighborhoods most residents may not associate with transportation or potential growth.

The Trinity Square neighborhood in Upper South Providence and the northern section of North Main Street at the Pawtucket line are singled out for the city’s first two transit-oriented development districts in its ongoing zoning rewrite.

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Providence Streetcar to apply for TIGER VI grant funding

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The Obama administration announced a new round of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants (known as TIGER VI) with an extremely short turn-around for submitting applications, they are due April 28th.

The City of Providence applied for a TIGER grant last year, RIDOT also submitted a bid for Apponaug which was supported by the Governor. The Apponaug project was awarded a TIGER grant, and while there isn’t direct competition built into the grant process per-say, it is thought that Providence’s streetcar bid lost out to Kansas City’s streetcar which had more secure funding in place at the time. Providence’s 2013 TIGER grant application included a funding plan, but unlike Kansas City’s successful application, steps had not yet been taken to implement that funding.

Capital costs for the project (costs incurred to build it) are estimated to be $117.8 million (2016 dollars). Funding will come from City TIF Bonds, Federal funds, Rhode Island Capital Plan funds, RIPTA CMAQ funds, and a RIDOT land transfer.

In the next month, Providence plans to work further toward implementation of funding by working with the Providence City Council Ordinance Committee to approve a TIF plan for the streetcar district. This funding represents 50% of the projected cost of the project and will be one of the sources for operations revenue after the project is complete.

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ProJo: In Providence, moving bus shelters a first step toward new vision for downtown plaza

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Image from Bing Maps

The city is proposing to move the two “eastern-most shelters” to a sidewalk of vacant land owned by the Providence Redevelopment Agency, an arm of the city’s Department of Planning and Development, on Exchange Street. The triangle-shaped, grass area next to the downtown post office is bordered by Exchange Terrace, Exchange Street and Memorial Boulevard.

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PBN: Parking, bus plans ‘Link’-ed

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The two projects carry estimated price tags in the neighborhood of $40 million each and one of the bus hubs will likely share a location with the parking garage at the Garrahy Judicial Complex on Dorrance Street.

[…]

As central as The Link [195 Redevelopment District] is to the state’s economic-development strategy, by itself the second RIPTA bus hub planned adjacent to the Providence Train Station could be a larger project than the combined Garrahy proposal.

That’s because the hub is being looked at as part of a public-private partnership including, potentially, expansion of the train station, more garage parking and mixed-use development of the vacant land next door owned by Capital Properties Inc.

Planned correctly, these projects could greatly enhance the city’s transportation system. It is good to see divergent players looking at all the pieces together and seeing how they fit.

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