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Tag Archives | Providence Station

RIPTA: Downtown Transit 2.0

Downtown Transit Alternatives 140320

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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Capital Center Commission Meeting – December 19, 2013

featured-capital-center Capital Center Commission Meeting
Thursday, December 19, 2013 12:00pm
Joseph A. Doorley, Jr. Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

providence-station

  1. Roll Call
  2. Minutes
    Approval of Special Meeting Minutes of October 17, 2013 and Regular Meeting Minutes of November 13, 2013
  3. Acceptance of 2014 CCC Meeting Schedule
  4. Providence Station Plaza
    Presentation of the 90% design project plans for the plaza and the area surrounding the train station
  5. Adjournment

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Capital Center Commission Meeting – January 9, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 – 12:00 NOON
Department of Planning and Development, 444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

Agenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Minutes
    2.1 Approval of Commission Meeting Minutes of October 10, 2012 and December 12, 2012
    2.2 Acceptance of DRC Meeting Minutes of September 25, 2012 and October 23, 2012
  3. Welcome New Members
  4. Election of Officers
  5. 2013 CCC Meeting Schedule: Acceptance of the Capital Center Commission’s 2013 Meeting Schedule
  6. Parcel 7: Providence Station Proposal to install bollards, fencing and gates as part of Amtrak’s security project at Providence Station.
  7. Adjournment

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If we’re going to redesign Providence Station, let’s do it right

Providence Station

Recently, RIDOT received $3 million dollars in Federal high speed rail funds for renovations at Providence Station. Among the items that money is set to be spent on is renovations and repairs to the exterior of the station.

We’ve received plans for those renovations and were less than thrilled.

Providence Station

Click image to enlarge

Providence Station is 26-years-old. Lack of routine maintenance aside, when buildings are approaching their 30th birthday, it often is time for renovations, and those renovations offer a chance to reassess the building, to make changes to bring it into line with conditions that weren’t present when the building was constructed.

In 1986, when Providence Station opened, rail travel was on the wane. Gas cost 93¢ per gallon, the MBTA did not serve Providence, there was no Amtrak Acela service, Capital Center was still on the drawing board, and no one was talking about streetcars in Providence. Basically it was built because cities are supposed to have train stations.

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Like: A train station with working clocks

Clocks

The whole train station is now all in the same time zone. Image submitted by Cliff Wood.

There is a very good reason why train stations have clocks, it is so you can know how long you have before your train arrives. So the fact that each clock on the clock tower at the Providence Train Station has displayed a different time for the better part of forever has been a terrible embarrassment.

So thank goodness, the clocks are finally fixed. The above photo was sent in from Cliff Wood at 9 o’clock this morning. This is almost as exciting as when the escalators were finally fixed.

Hooray!

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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood announces high speed rail money for New England

Providence Station

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced $82.7 million to improve high-speed and intercity passenger rail in Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut and Vermont. The dollars will provide needed upgrades to the Northeast Corridor, Connecticut’s New Haven – Springfield line, Maine’s Downeaster route and the Vermonter service.

Rhode Island Department of Transportation. $26.2 million for the design and construction of an electrified third track parallel to the Northeast Corridor’s main line, and a new platform for the station in Kingston, RI. The third track will permit faster trains to overtake slower trains, reducing congestion and improving on-time performance on the Northeast Corridor for Amtrak and commuter trains. Throughout the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C to Boston, $1.75 billion is being invested to improve service.

Rhode Island Department of Transportation. $3 million for preliminary engineering and environmental reviews for American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant platforms at the Providence station on the Northeast Corridor. The project also includes improved parking and pedestrian access, station repairs, potential reconfiguration of transit circulation and drop-off facilities, and future tunnel improvements.

Information about funding for projects in Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont at the Federal Railroad Administration website.

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Reimagining of Providence Station by Jonathan Winslow

A couple months I Rebooted Providence Station. Shortly after that, Portland, Oregon based architect Jonathan Winslow forwarded me the plan he did for the station area while he was a student at RISD.

Jonathan Winslow

On his website you can see that Jonathan’s plan is a complete re-imagining of the existing train station. The new station features an atrium allowing light to reach down to the railroad platforms, an attached hotel, expanded restaurant and retail space, visitor information, new ticket booths, expaned waiting areas, and more.

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REBOOT: Providence Train Station

Schematic for a redesigned Providence Train Station area.

Click image to enlarge

REBOOT is an occasional series of posts on GC:PVD where we identify areas of the city that display poor urbanism and propose ways to improve them. Our interventions may be simple and quite easily realized, or they may at times be grand and possibly take years or decades to complete. Either way, we hope they generate interest and discussion.

Oh Providence Station… why are you such a dump?

Of course the short answer to that is that we have not taken care of it. But this post is not about the sad condition of the station, it is about the fact that the station was a mistake to begin with.

Of course we used to have the stunning Union Station which is now the home of the Rhode Island Foundation and other offices. The river and railroad relocation projects resulted in the tracks leaving Union Station behind and a new station being built.

When Providence Station was opened in 1986 we were deep in the heart of the automobile age. Gas supplies were cheap and seemingly inexhaustible, Amtrak was kind of a quaint hobby that we north-easterners insisted on keeping in service, and the MBTA did not reach Providence. This resulted in a station that is too small for our post-$4/gallon gasoline world. A station that is inconveniently located away from the city’s major employment centers (and with the removal of Route 195, the city’s employment centers are poised to move further from the train station).

Were it maintained properly, the station is certainly handsome. The clock tower nicely pierces the skyline, the low slung dome is handsome and adds a modern bent to the collection of domes we have in our fair city, the interior is attractive. However, the interior is not spacious enough for the passengers we have utilizing existing MBTA and Amtrak services, and the station will become more crowded as MBTA services expand southward and if a Blackstone Valley commuter service is ever instituted. And as the price of gas continues its generally upward trend, more and more people will turn to the trains.

Let’s not waste time blaming the planners from the 80’s for their shortsightedness on the station’s design, let’s instead consider what we can do to modify it for a world that is very different from 1986.

Bret wrote a post a couple years ago in which he cited me as referring to the station as a hundred-year mistake. He went on to highlight some of the short comings of Capital Center area as a neighborhood, and suggest some solutions. We were to write a Part II to that post and never got around to it, this is that Part II I suppose.

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