Categories

Archive | Transportation

Rhode Island Transit Future: Ideas – BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) – PRO-BUS

TransMilenio_01

TransMilenio – Heroes station in Bogotá, Colombia. Photo (cc) Jorge Láscar

This post was submitted Greater City Providence reader Peter Brassard. If you’ve written something you’d like us to consider posting, please contact us and let us know.
The Coalition for Transportation Choices (CTC) with the collaboration and assistance of Grow Smart RI will present on Tuesday, December 1st NEXT STOP: Making Transit Work for Rhode Island, a forum for business, civic and political leaders—together with transit riders.

The following is the first of a series of articles meant to encourage thought and discussion on Rhode Island mass transit issues. I will try to offer perspective on several transit modes, as well as suggest potential strategies for improving transit in the state. I urge others to put their own ideas forward and to comment and improve upon mine.

walkinpvd-iconThe primary issues for Rhode Island mass transit are:

  • Travel times
  • Frequency of service
  • Negative cultural perception of transit
  • Limited funding

The first topic, which follows, is on BRT (Bus Rapid Transit).

BRT is the use of buses using mostly exclusive right-of-ways to increase travel speed and reduce delays. The system features stations with platforms. Fare payment occurs within the station or elsewhere, but not on the bus. Generally, when a bus enters a station, multiple doors open to speed up the boarding process for passengers exiting or entering.

The state is interested in exploring the possibility of incorporating BRT routes as a part of the Olneyville Expressway replacement. Others, as well as myself, have suggested downgrading the highway(s) to a boulevard, similar to what has been done with the West Side Highway in New York and the Presidio in San Francisco.

Continue Reading →

22

NEXT STOP: Making Transit Work for Rhode Island – December 1, 2015

ripta-kp

Coalition for Transportation Choices to host forum on making transit work for more Rhode Islanders.

From Grow Smart RI:


Transit forum will examine lessons learned in Denver, Minneapolis and Hartford as local officials explore how to make transit work for more Rhode Islanders

Nearly 80% of Rhode Island’s population lives within a 10-minute walk of a transit stop. Still, only about 2.7% of the state’s population uses transit regularly. It’s something of a “chicken or egg” conundrum since service must first be robust, convenient and frequent enough to attract would-be riders.

In collaboration with the Coalition for Transportation Choices (CTC), Grow Smart RI is helping to present NEXT STOP: Making Transit Work for Rhode Island, a forum for business, civic and political leaders – together with transit riders – on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 8:30-11:30 a.m. at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

Featured speakers will include those involved in advancing popular transit services in Minneapolis, Denver and Hartford. A local leaders panel will then examine the challenges and opportunities for making transit work for more Rhode Islanders, saving time and money for commuters, while contributing to the revitalization of urban and town centers and reducing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

Concepts and priorities discussed will help to inform a detailed 10-year proposal for transforming our state’s transit system a catalyst for sustainable economic growth.

For more information and to register for this free event, visit Grow Smart RI.
6

RIPTA New Fare Structure Public Hearings

RIPTA

From RIPTA:


Notice of Public Hearings on Proposed Adoption of New Fare Structure and Reduced Fare Pass Bus Program Regulation

Pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 39-18-4 of Rhode Island General Laws and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) hereby gives notice of its intent to hold public hearings on a proposed new fare structure.

The Board also hereby gives notice, in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act, Rhode Island General Laws, Chapter 42-35, of its intent to hold public hearings on a proposed new Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program regulation.

The proposed fare structure and a concise statement of the non-technical differences between the existing Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program and the proposed Program are available for public inspection at 705 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI, or by email at mditoro@ripta.com, or by phone at (401) 784-9500 ex. 171.

In development of the proposed Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program, consideration was given to (1) alternative approaches; (2) overlap or duplication with other statutory and regulatory provisions; and (3) significant economic impact on small business. No alternative approach, duplication, or overlap was identified based upon available information.

All interested parties are invited to submit written or oral comments concerning the proposed fare structure or the proposed Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program by December 1, 2015. Comments may be sent to RIPTA, Office of the CEO, 705 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI, 02907. Comments may also be sent by email to marketing@ripta.com or made by phone to (401) 784-9500 ex. 101.

The public hearings will address changes to the Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program, the discontinuation and replacement of RIPTIKs and 15 Ride Passes, introduction of new products and the following proposed fare increases:

Continue Reading →

2

ProJo: Raimondo pushes out managers, dismisses employees at ‘dysfunctional’ DOT

ridot-flickr

Image from RIDOT

Having diagnosed Rhode Island’s transportation bureaucracy as “dysfunctional,” Governor Raimondo Wednesday outlined the steps she’s taking to fix it — with or without revenue from proposed truck tolls.

In an overhaul of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation that started earlier this year, Raimondo said she has pushed out several managers, adopted private-sector planning processes and begun hiring workers to reduce the agency’s reliance on outside contractors.

RIDOT has also either dismissed or accepted the resignation of “four or five” unidentified employees for “dishonesty,” including false record keeping and not being where they said they were, according to Director Peter Alviti.


I don’t have anything nice to say about RIDOT so I won’t say anything at all.

1

RIPTA Fare Restructuring Proposals

RIPTA

News from PBN and EcoRI about RIPTA’s proposed fare changes:

Providence Business News: RIPTA eyes expanded service, but who will pay?

A U.S. census survey, called the American Community Survey, in 2013 reported that 2.9 percent of Rhode Islanders used public transportation at least once a week.

Largely because of its small size, Rhode Island has a density that rivals New Jersey — with 1,018 people per square mile. For comparison purposes, 10.8 percent of the New Jersey population used public transportation, while 27 percent of the state of New York did so, according to the census survey.

Rhode Island’s density is what officials at state transportation agencies point to when arguing that increased investment in public transit is a smart move.

[…] Continue Reading →

14

Automobile induced isolation and loneliness in small cities

ripta-flickr

Photo (cc) Matt Cloutier

The Bicycle Lobby posted the following Tweet this evening which I retweeted:


Typical Bicycle Lobby of course, but one of the responses to my retweet was:

Continue Reading →

21

RIBike: Meetings with RIDOT

ridot-washington-bridge-2015-003

We had two meetings last week with Deputy Director of RIDOT, Pete Garino. One was a roundtable with a number of other advocates for biking & transit, one was one-on-one. There are changes afoot at RIDOT, and we wanted to let you know what’s going on.

First of all, the basic idea the new RIDOT leadership is pushing in its 10-year RhodeWorks proposal is to raise extra money through truck tolls to aggressively repair the state’s structurally-deficient bridges and get us out of the “death spiral” of nothing but emergency repairs. With public infrastructure, it’s often the case that doing proactive maintenance & repairs saves boatloads of money in the longer run, and RIDOT wants to do that.

But what about bikes? In the administration’s proposed breakdown of funding in the RhodeWorks proposal, there is $128 million for bike/ped infrastructure over the next 10 years, which is about 3x more than we’re getting currently. In addition to keeping that funding in there, we’ve been clear with DOT that when they’re resurfacing roads and bridges, they should stripe bike lanes wherever appropriate. To focus that process, we are eager to work with Statewide Planning, DOT, DEM, and local governments to ensure that good bike plans are in place so that DOT knows where to put bike lanes.


Visit the link to read RIBike’s extensive notes on various transportation projects.

0

WPRI: Providence hires firm to study streetcar project

pvd-streetcar-kennedy-plaza

The city’s planning department has tapped a Boston-based consulting firm to oversee a “planning and engineering services” study on the proposed streetcar line in downtown.

HDR, Inc., the same company that helped the city craft its original plans for the streetcar project several years ago, will be paid $1.7 million for the study. The Board of Contract and Supply and the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) still need to approve the contract.

8

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

route-2-102-ripta-wickford

Image from Google Streetview

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.

Continue Reading →

20

National Dump The Pump Day – June 18, 2015

dump_the_pump_2015

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.
3

James Kennedy: Why Routes 6/10 should be redeveloped as a surface boulevard

6-10-overpass-ridot

Overpass on 6/10 Connector inbound. Photo from RIDOT

This post originally appeared on Transport Providence and is reposted with persmission of the author.

My Letter to City Council

To Honorable Councilpersons Aponte, Hassett, Matos, Principe, and Jennings,

I would like to bring a proposal for Rt. 6/10 to your attention. My proposal was #10 on RI NPR’s “Things to Know in Rhode Island” this week, and I hope I can get Council’s attention to discuss it.

The Rt. 6/10 Connector would be best redeveloped as a surface boulevard. The RIDOT proposal for bus lanes is what I call “transit oriented decoration” rather than “transit oriented development” because the bus lanes would remain on a raised or sunken highway, which would mean that meaningful transit service would pass over your wards.

It’s important to have some kind of “express” service for buses, but what makes buses successful is ridership, which allows frequency. We can only get ridership if we allow the dense neighborhoods that 6/10 passes through to get full service, and that means fostering a healthy pedestrian environment with development around the route. A surface boulevard will do that, and a limited-access highway will not.

Bus lanes without a meaningful ridership base and walkable environment will be as unsuccessful as the Wickford Junction Station was, and for the same reasons.

Continue Reading →

15

Barry Schiller: Rhode Works – $4.8 Billion for Rhode Island Transportation

warren-ave-ridot

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.

Continue Reading →

30

CNU New England streetcar discussion – June 10, 2015

streetcar-empire

From CNU New England:


Streetcar Revival: Providence, New England, and lessons learned from the World’s Best Transit City

Wednesday, June 10 | 5pm – 7pm
Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence, RI

Join CNU New England for a discussion of the Providence Streetcar project as well as insights from world-class transit systems. Our conversation will explore the potential impacts to Providence, the unique opportunities and challenges for streetcars in New England’s towns and cities, and lessons learned from cities across the world.

Continue Reading →

0

News & Notes

A couple of red traffic lights against a blue sky

Photo (cc) Horia Varlan

Better Cities & Towns: The benefits of removing stop lights

In the 1990s, the City of Philadelphia removed 800 traffic lights. Traffic flow improved and accidents declined by 26 percent in these intersections.

Recently, Wayne State researchers recommended that Detroit remove 460 signals, or 30 percent of its total inventory. And that figure may underestimate removable signals, the researchers note.

For pedestrians, four-way stops are much better—because every automobile has to come to a complete stop and traffic is calmed.

For pedestrians, removing traffic signals also helps maintain their right-of-way. If one approaches a stop light and is unable to reach the beg-button before the light changes, the red hand tells pedetrains and motorists that the pedestrian is not allowed to cross, even if they are trying to cross with the green which they should be allowed to do by right. Even if the walk-light actuates, turning drivers interpret their green as their right-of-way and treat the pedestrian as secondary.

A non-signalized intersection gives pedestrians the right-of-way.


The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: One-way streets are failing their cities

In John Gilderbloom’s experience, the notorious streets are invariably the one-way streets. These are the streets lined with foreclosed homes and empty storefronts, the streets that look neglected and feel unsafe, the streets where you might find drug dealers at night.

“Sociologically, the way one-way streets work,” he says, “[is that] if there are two or more lanes, a person can just pull over and make a deal, while other traffic can easily pass them by.”

It’s also easier on a high-speed one-way road to keep an eye out for police or flee from the scene of a crime.

So all the streets that were made one way on Federal Hill to deter drug activity, actually made it worse? Thanks NIMBYs.


Continue Reading →

16

RIPTA online fare survey

IMG_0923

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.

Continue Reading →

6

WPRI: Providence moving forward with streetcar plan

rendering-streetcar-empire

Providence is moving forward with an altered – and slightly cheaper – version of its proposed streetcar line.

The city is currently seeking proposals for “planning and engineering services” that would include a preliminary design of a 1.6-mile streetcar line that would begin at Providence Station and end near the main entrance on Rhode Island Hospital.

The projected $100.2-million price tag is less than the original $117.8-million proposal, in part because the city is no longer planning stops on College Hill in the first phase of its plan. Future extensions of the line would include the East Side and Dudley Street in South Providence.

Update

Dan McGowan asked me to comment on the streetcar for the “Saturday Morning Post” on WPRI.

The state can support the streetcar project and make it more successful by working to increase the speed and frequency of MBTA Commuter Rail service between Providence and Boston and extending service to Kingston Station near URI.

51

ProJo: State seeks contractor to evaluate possible consolidation of R.I. transportation agencies

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

RIDOT work on the Providence Viaduct, March 2014

Is there a new transportation super-agency in Rhode Island’s future? Perhaps.

On March 25, the new Raimondo administration quietly opened bids for a contract to provide “Transportation Management Assessment and Review Services.”

Among the stated “goals of this investigation”: to take a step-back look at the effectiveness of having multiple state agencies operate different pieces of Rhode Island’s transportation network, from the ports and airports, to the RIPTA bus routes and road-builders.


It would be very helpful if RIDOT and RIPTA were more integrated on projects; if there was always a mass transit person at the table when RIDOT work was being planned. It is a little worrying that RIPTA could be merged with an agency that still has not proven that it can move beyond car-first thinking when it comes to transportation.

It is not just RIPTA and RIDOT though, airport manangement, port management, and Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (which controls our bridges and tolls) could all be merged into a larger transportation agency.

It all comes down to how it is structured of course. It will be interesting to see what the conclusions of the review are.

4

RIPTA Comprehensive Fare Study

ripta-riptiks

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.

Continue Reading →

1