Tag Archives | Trolley

Streetcars: The train station is out, but that’s OK

Providence Core Connector

Providence Streetcar proposed between College Hill and Prairie Avenue

The latest Core Connector (Streetcar) study document can be found here. [.pdf]

The main question that has been at issue with the Core Connector alignment is how to serve both the train station and College Hill at the northern end while maintain frequent service between those points and the Hospital District at the southern. If northbound trains split with every other one going to the train station or the Hill, then that would degrade the service frequency to each location.

Several options were explored, one would have had a shuttle running between the train station and Kennedy Plaza where passengers would be able to connect to the main line streetcars heading to College Hill and the Hospitals. That would be a major investments to carry passengers the 4 blocks between the two and would not address the fact that passengers are forced to make another connection along their trip.

Another option was to send the streetcars to the train station but not College Hill. College Hill would be served by other conventional bus services and passengers would make a connection at Kennedy Plaza to the streetcar. The issue here is that the expected passenger load to and from the train station will be confined to rush hours.

There are trains serving the station throughout the day, but mainly it will be commuters. College Hill will have commuters but will also have Brown and RISD students, staff, and faculty traveling downtown and the Jewelry and Hospital Districts. Economic development in the Jewelry District will likely for the near future be tied to academia, especially Brown. A direct connection to College Hill will serve more people more often.

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Providence Residents: Free Zoo & Trolley Too

RIPTA is pleased to announce this new promotion with the Roger Williams Park Zoo! Beginning May 2011, passengers can ride the Route 6 Prairie/RW Zoo Trolley for FREE every FIRST Saturday of the month through September 2011.

This promotional trolley service is in conjunction with the Zoo’s current program – Providence residents only receive complimentary admission to the Zoo on the first Saturday of every month.

Providence residents can enjoy a FREE Trolley Ride to the Zoo on Route 6 Prairie/RW Zoo AND FREE admission to the Zoo on the following Saturdays: May 7th, June 4th, July 2nd, August 6th, and September 3rd.

*The first Saturday of every month is free zoo admission for Providence residents only, with proof of residency. Proof of residency is a driver’s license or a bill | like a gas bill | with name and address printed on it. This serves as a “thank you” to Providence residents whose tax money helps to support the Zoo.


RIPTA Trolley service to the Zoo starts tomorrow

RIPTA’s Gold Line Trolley, now Route 6, starts providing direct service to Roger Williams Park Zoo starting tomorrow.

Trolleys depart Kennedy Plaza approximately every half hour 7 days a week with runs to the Zoo starting at 8:30am. The last return Trolley from the Zoo is 4:16pm weekdays and 4:28pm on the weekends. A full service schedule is available here [.pdf].

Trolleys run from Kennedy Plaza down Washington Street, to the Service Roads, to Prairie Avenue making a diversion to CCRI and the Met School, meet Broad Street and head through the park to the Zoo (some trips make a diversion to Colony House on Niagara Street). The trip from Kennedy Plaza to the Zoo takes approximately 25 minutes.

According to the printed schedule, starting April 16th, Zoo visitors who present a RIPTA Rider Reciept will recieve $1 off Zoo admission:

Save $1.00 off your admission to the Roger Williams Park Zoo with a RIPTA Rider Receipt! Valid April 16, 2011 – September 5, 2011. After boarding the bus, simply ask the driver for a Rider Receipt. Show the receipt when purchasing your zoo admission.

If anyone rides the Trolley to the Zoo over the coming weeks, let us know how it was.

RIPTA Press Release


A proposal for the Core Connector and a Frequent Service network

The City and RIPTA are having a public meeting about the Core Connector Study on Thursday. Before that, I thought I’d lay out some of my thoughts on the issue.

First, let me share my thoughts on having streetcars in Providence. The short story is I support them. Let’s say, for the sake of having a number, that the Core Connector built out as streetcars will cost $80 million¹. Certainly, a lot could be done for $80 million. But the Core Connector is not simply the school bus for Brown that people² are so flippant to say.

I view the Core Connector in large part as a marketing scheme for RIPTA and the City of Providence. Many people who’ve never ridden a bus will ride the streetcars. If RIPTA builds it and runs it properly, with reasonable fares, frequent service, well trained operators, ease of use, etc., it will be a great introduction to mass transit for these new users. Then when RIPTA makes the case for funding, as they will always need to do, the chorus of haters will be tempered. It is also a strong stake in the ground wherein RIPTA and the state leadership are saying they believe in public transit in Rhode Island and are willing to lay out a pile of money and steel rails in the ground to back that up.

For the city, having a streetcar line is a marketing dream. The shiny photos of happy people riding the rails are a brochure makers dream. They’ll be plastered all over the city’s and the convention center’s websites (and this website). It is a strong message for economic developers to send to companies looking to relocate here. ‘Look at us, we have a strong commuter rail line tied to a streetcar line and excellent bus service. Come here, your employees will love it!’

And plus that, we get a streetcar line connecting the two largest employment areas in the state with the train station and Downcity. In addition to serving existing riders and institutions, our proposed routing will help spur development in the Route 195 land, one of the best areas of development opportunity on the East Coast.

Could we save some money and put some rubber wheels on the road and call it a Core Connector? Sure, but we would not get anywhere near the bang for the buck that streetcars will provide. I think it is a worthy investment for our city and our state.

Now, onto where I think said streetcar should go and what service I think could supplement it.

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Report from the Field; New RIPTA trolley

Photo by Jim Beller

A reader reports that they were greeted at the bus stop this morning by one of RIPTA’s new hybrid trolleys, pictured above.

He reports that the ride was much smoother than the maddening bumps of the old trolleys. The driver also reported that they were much better to drive. Our reader also took note that the low-floor entrance at the front door will allow people in wheelchairs to board much more swiftly keeping the trolleys on schedule.

The old trolleys had a wheelchair lift in the back, that when working, could take forever. A wheelchair passenger boarding and unboarding could easily throw the trolley 5-10 minutes off schedule. That is, as I said, if the lift worked at all.

Photo by Jim Beller

Has anyone else seen the new trolleys in action or taken a ride on one?


RFP for new trolley shelter at Roger Williams Park Zoo

Photo of new baby giraffe at Roger Williams Park Zoo from the Zoo’s Facebook page.

RIPTA and the Roger Williams Park Zoo have teamed up to release an RFP for a new trolley shelter at the Zoo:

Roger Williams Park Zoo is partnering with the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority to create a unique and original bus shelter design to be located at the Zoo entrance.

The Bus Shelter Project will enhance the experience of those traveling to and from the Zoo by providing seating and shelter from the weather while introducing unique design elements to the streetscape environment.

  • Access the full RFP online [.pdf]; see pages 79-81 for the scope of work.
  • Deadline to submit proposals: August 5, 2010.
  • Contact Brooks Almonte with questions about this opportunity.

“But wait! There’s no trolley to the Zoo!” you say.

From the RFP:

In 2011, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) will begin serving the Zoo entrance with a new fleet of trolleys. The trolley route will connect downtown Providence to the zoo via the hospital district and the south side neighborhood. Roger Williams Park Zoo is partnering with the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority to create a unique and original bus shelter design to be located at the Zoo entrance. The intent of this project is to create a favorite piece of art while enhancing the experience of the transit user. It is expected that the design of this shelter will make it a showpiece for the Zoo, for RIPTA, and for the state of Rhode Island.

Yes, this is news to me too, but I love it, and have asked RIPTA for some more info on it, which I will post when I recieve it.

In fact I love it so much, I direct you to this comment I made on another post where I drew a route for a potential Zoo Shuttle. Not saying anyone stole my idea (in fact I talked to some people at RIPTA after drawing that, and they said they were trying to make something like it happen (so I guess this isn’t really the first I’m hearing of it)), just saying it is an idea I really like.