Greater City Providence

Core Connector Study Meeting, Dec. 9

Providence Core Connector Study
December Public Forum

Three potential route options are now being reviewed to identify relative strengths, weaknesses, costs and benefits. The results will be presented at an upcoming public forum:

Thursday, December 9th
Providence Central Library
150 Empire Street, 3rd floor
Providence, RI
5pm to 7pm

Greater City Providence

Promoting the smart urban growth of the Greater Providence region.


  • Not unhappy with any of them in particular, but I think I just realized why so few people out here on the west end of the city get involved in these discussions, we aren’t in them.
    Okay, Brown deserves a hub, but we have similar needs out here that no one addresses.
    ProvColl staff and students get free rides, but are served by a bus the detours to Home Depot and the Chad Brown Housing area; RIC students don’t get free rides even though that is mostly a commuter campus and they can ride the same bus as the PC kids, only they get to see a lot more road and a hospital; no one encourages bus commuting for the older LaSalle Academy students, and every morning and night the area streets are choked with school buses, angry moms in SUVs dropping their kids in the middle of Smith Street, and a couple dozen newly licensed moving hazards looking for parking or the quickest way home.
    A remote hub with free parking nearby would solve a lot of this.

    I suppose one has to do things one step at a time, but some attention away from the downcity/eastside would be nice from time to time in these plans.

  • I think I like the middle option (with both alternate routes) the best of those choices. The east option wastes a lot of its coverage over water. The west option doesn’t get close enough to the Convention Center/Dunk.

    I agree with the above poster about options west of this area. The Hill, PC, RIC, Olneyville, the West End, and the VA get no consideration at all, but there’s a rapid bus to Cranston down Broad Street that ends nowhere in particular? What sense does that make?

    The southern rapid bus route belongs on Elmwood and should end at the Park.

  • I wish there was a more elegant way to hit the train station than going up and down exchange street. Do we anticipate that enough RIH employees and Brown students/employees will be arriving to Providence by commuter rail to warrant direct service from the train station to each? Or is the idea to provide a better connection between commuter rail/Amtrak and RIPTA? If the goal is the latter, perhaps a shuttle from the train station to KP would be better than sending the streetcar out of its way. If the schedules were tight enough, anyone from the Thayer or RIH hubs could hop off the streetcar and right onto the shuttle, which really isn’t that inconvenient, and anyone else bound for the train station would be transferring at KP anyway. If the streetcar tries to do everything, it might compromise how well it does anything.

  • I like the west option best, though none are awful. I like the east & west because of the two-way on every street design versus the “middle” option with diverging directions on differant streets.

    Again, I’d take any of them as a start.

  • Though a downtown stop is essential, I’m not sure why Kennedy Plaza needs to remain a significant hub for the area. Why not take the remaining undeveloped Capital Cove parcel and/or the parcels at Citizens Plaza and develop it as a transportation hub that would include busses, Amtrak, street-rail, etc…?

    In addition, the East Side Rail Tunnel could be re-opened and connected to said transport hub for East Bay commuters. Similar to GCPVD: REBOOT ( ), though instead snaking up Park Row West towards Providence Station.

    Just sayin’

  • The East Option would likely be the cheapest to construct, but offers the most limited service area. It neglects the entire western third of Downtown, which has significant cultural, entertainment, and conference venues|Trinity, the Dunk, and Convention Center, as well as, the Empire office district. URI and PPAC would be marginally served with this option. Also, the highest density areas of the 195-surplus land district would not be served by this route, which has the greatest potential to develop new office space and is where Johnson & Wales is planning a large campus expansion.

    The West Option, which is only 1,400 feet longer than the East Option would offer better coverage to both the eastern and western portions of Downtown. PPAC would be similarly inconvenienced as would the area south of the Financial District below Friendship Street, which has lower proposed densities and would mostly be dominated by the new riverfront park, which other than special events, would require lower usage of Core Connector service. The West Option would provide an indirect link to the Cahir Street Sub-hub, which would be a 4 or 5 minute walk along Broad Street to the Core Connector. The offices located below the courthouse would be a similar distance away, if a Core Connector stop were located at or near the mouth of the tunnel at North Main Street. With the West Option, venues and offices in the western part of Downtown would be interconnected with east and south portions and Capital Center.

    The Middle Option would be an ideal offering the most coverage throughout Downtown, but would cost more with the need for added track length and catenary assemblies plus multiple streets would be torn up during construction adding to costs. PPAC could have its own stop, the Convention Center would be closer to a stop, and the Westminster Street retail district could be directly served.

    A possible alternate for the Middle or West Options might shift the route coming from the east on Washington Street to extend to Exchange Street to Exchange Terrace, and then to Sabin to Empire. The return route would follow to Fountain to Exchange Terrace and back. The advantage would be to provide a direct stop at the Convention Center and Westin complex. Providence Place would have Core Connector access through the Westin, which would be very helpful since so many people park in Providence Place’s garage. The Convention Center with over 300 annual events could be directly served, as many attendees are from out-of-town that might not necessarily have a car but need access to get around Downtown. Also, Dunk events would be directly served. Another reason to shift the route away from Washington and Empire Streets is because of the problem of squealing streetcar wheels with 90 degree turns. This concern was expressed by Mark Therrien at a previous Core Connector briefing regarding the potential to disturb performances at PPAC. The same would be true for Trinity with streetcars turning at Washington and Empire Streets. Shifting the route would eliminate this issue.

    Until a final route is decided it’s early to discuss stops. However, an obvious one is at the train station. Repeatedly on Core Connector study maps, the train station terminus or stop is shown turning onto Railroad Street directly in front of the station’s south entrance. Locating the stop at the station’s south side would add considerably to an often chaotic condition when several trains have arrived and/or are departing at the same time. A streetcar would be competing with private cars picking-up or dropping-off passengers, combined with taxicabs and cars leaving the below grade garage. A better choice would be to locate the train station streetcar stop to the west side of the station, which is currently used by Amtrak as an informal parking area. There are several doors on the station’s west façade that are currently locked. They could be reopened for Core Connector passenger access, which would reduce congestion for both pedestrians and vehicles at the station.

    The East Option would serve only Brown and the hospitals at the expense of the rest of Downtown and should flatly be rejected. The ideal would be the Middle Option modified as mentioned above. If costs prohibit that option a modified West Option would be the best alternative. Any Core Connector line that is built might be the only Core Connector service for a decade or more. So whatever route is ultimately chosen must offer the maximum amount of connectivity throughout the entirety of Downtown.

  • You know the more I hear about this the more irritated I get. Why? Because all three proposals miss the mark by several miles.

    Why? I’ll explain. It makes much more sense to get diesel buses off the road even if they are hybrids since those only get about 50% greater fuel efficiency.

    Tracked electric vehicles make entirely more sense for the 11/99 line, for the 28/50 line, and even the 27 line.

    You don’t run tracked transit into already economically established areas, you run them into areas that need economic growth.

    I swear we have a bunch of high school students planning this whole thing.

  • I completely agree with you Tony – already established areas need this much less than areas where we want to stimulate growth. However, I think the only way funding is going to be possible is with the help of Brown and the hospitals. Perhaps the goal here is to prove success with the initial line and then more funding can come in for more practical lines.

  • It ‘s not just about Brown and the hospitals though that’s a lot of it. There’s something like 10,000 daily RIPTA rides by Brown students and employees between the South Providence hospitals and College Hill.

    There are about 108,000 jobs in Providence. More than half those jobs are located Downtown. Education and healthcare have been the only job sectors to add jobs in the city with over 13,000 new jobs in the last 7 years or so, most of which are in Downtown or South Providence and College Hill.

    To prevent the new South County Commuter Rail line from failure, it’s essential to have frequent “Core Connector” service that links the train station to both the hospitals and College Hill and everything in between.

    I fully agree that the West Side has been shortchanged in the planning process. A line across Broadway to Olneyville would create a huge potential for economic growth in the square. A better choice might be connecting the train station to Olneyville Square along the river. That would make the valley an economic job creation magnet, since the entire valley would be seamlessly interconnected by frequent transit.

    With the current climate in Washington and upcoming Congress, RIPTA will be lucky to find any kind of the funding for the Core Connecter, even if it were only to create Rapid Bus stops and purchase buses. A streetcar might turn into an unattainable luxury, even though it would provide the highest economic return.

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