Greater City Providence

Rapid bus, other initiatives, coming to RIPTA


RIPTA CEO Raymond Studley speaking at a June 10th press conference in Burnside Park.

Yesterday, RIPTA held a press conference in Burnside Park to announce transportation initiatives scheduled to take effect over the next year.

Changes include route changes and bus stop realignment resulting from the Comprehensive Operational Analysis, Rapid bus service on Routes 11 and 99, real time schedule information, and more.

Projects highlighted by RIPTA:


Bus Stop Realignment Project

The Bus Stop Realignment Project launches this summer and will consolidate bus stops statewide. RIPTA will be removing and moving bus stops to meet newly adopted guidelines. Fewer stops equal faster buses that can operate on a more reliable schedule. The Bus Stop Realignment Project will reduce energy consumption and emissions, while reducing operating and maintenance costs.

Roof Replacement/Solar Panel Project

This summer, RIPTA will complete the Roof Replacement/Solar Panel project at the Transportation Building located at 269 Melrose Street, Providence. Funds for the project are a combination of Federal ARRA funds, a competitive Federal grant for green investments, funds from the Attorney General’s settlement of an environmental lawsuit, and RIPTA revolving loan funds. The Authority expects to save $30,000 annually as a user of solar energy.

FALL 2013

First Phase of Implementation of Major Service Changes

RIPTA is about to complete its statewide review of transit services. The study has undertaken a detailed review process to identify where people live and work, how each bus route is performing today, and where changes might possibly be made to better serve riders. Proposed changes are designed to work within RIPTA’s existing budget, and the intent is to direct transit resources where they would be most effective. These changes include proposed new routes and express services, scheduling improvements to better coordinate routes operating in the same corridor, modified route alignments, frequency changes to better match service with demand, and the discontinuation of certain routes and route segments. Beginning September 2013, RIPTA will start implementing proposed changes in service statewide.

New Bus Schedules

As service changes are implemented, RIPTA will debut a new bus schedule design with each route. The new bus schedules will be easier to understand and will include major stops along the route, and easy-to-read timetables. All route maps will be made geographically correct and to scale. RIPTA will clearly mark express trips and Park n’ Ride service schedules in order to make them more user-friendly.


Launch of the R-Line – RIPTA’s Rapid Bus Program

RIPTA’s Rapid Bus program will provide a premium-level service to both improve RIPTA’s operational efficiency and the passenger experience. The R-Line will provide bus service on RIPTA’s highest ridership corridor, which carries approximately 10,000 passengers per weekday over the course of 7 miles of routing. This route will run from the southern terminus on Broad Street at the Providence/Cranston city line, along Broad Street to downtown Providence. Once downtown, the R-Line will stop at both Kennedy Plaza (RIPTA’s primary bus hub) and Providence Station (direct connections to Amtrak and MBTA service). The R-Line will continue north along North Main Street into Pawtucket. Once in Pawtucket, the R-Line will continue along Main Street to its northern terminus in downtown Pawtucket. The R-Line also includes RIPTA’s first implementation of Transit Signal Prioritization. The R-Line will incorporate both way finding and local artwork as part of its development, and is designed to complement the neighborhoods it serves. The R-line will feature 25 new shelters 7 Ticket Vending Machines, and 20 wayfinding totems. Also, additional benches, enhanced signage and bike racks will be installed as part of the project.

  • R-Line Bus Shelters RIPTA will install 25 shelters on the R-Line to provide additional amenities for their passengers. The shelters will be larger in size to accommodate more passengers while also utilizing solar technology to light the shelters.
  • Ticket Vending Machines (TVM) As part of the Rapid Bus Program, RIPTA will install 7 TVMs along the R-Line. This customer-friendly initiative will improve efficiency by reducing dwell time at bus stops. Purchasing RIPTA bus passes will be more convenient than ever with optional debit and credit card payment methods. By encouraging cash passengers to purchase preloaded fare media, boarding times will decrease significantly. Utilized in conjunction with other changes on the R-Line, RIPTA will see a reduction of up to three fewer buses needed to provide the same amount of service. RIPTA will closely monitor how often TVMs are utilized. If they are extremely successful, they will eventually be placed in other high-traffic, high demand locations around the state.
  • Wayfinding Totems Wayfinding totems and enhanced bus stop signs will create greater confidence in passengers as these items will provide users with knowledge of RIPTA’s system as well as information about the surrounding areas.

Funds for the project are a combination of Federal ARRA funds, HUD Office of Sustainable Housing Community Challenge Grant, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Grant, Transit Enhancement funds, and a City of Providence Community Development Block Grant.

Automated Transit Management System (ATMS)

RIPTA’s new Automated Transit Management System (ATMS) will offer many operational and customer benefits, including automatic bus stop announcements, video surveillance, and real-time location reporting. In addition to providing smart bus benefits, this project will also leverage the Authority’s investment in technology in two vital areas: cutting edge customer service delivery and enhanced communications to better manage RIPTA’s fleet.

  • Automated Stop Announcements RIPTA will implement an automated stop announcement system on-board its fleet. This system, which offers both audio and visual notification of the next scheduled stop, will be beneficial for individuals with disabilities, tourists, seniors, students, and new residents.
  • Video Surveillance Video surveillance cameras will be installed on RIPTA’s fixed-route and paratransit fleet. These cameras will aid in protecting and reassuring passenger and driver safety by reducing vandalism and other criminal activity. Cameras will also provide RIPTA with a clear accident record, protecting the company against fraudulent accident claims.
  • Real-time Information This program is the latest initiative to alert riders to the status of their commute in real time, with planned future availability of actual bus locations available on the web, by text message and email, and on your Smartphone. This system will take the guesswork out of waiting for the next bus ride through enhanced global positioning system (GPS) devices that triangulate bus locations in real time. Accessible through cell phones and other electronic devices, all passengers have to do is text us a code that will be prominently displayed at their bus stop. They will immediately receive a return text with the real-time locations of the next several buses. All major transit hubs will feature LCD signs that will display bus arrivals and departures in real-time, so you’ll know when the next bus is coming. Every bus on RIPTA’s system will have this new technology by 2014. This project is funded with 80% federal funds matched by RIPTA’s Capital Revolving Loan Fund, to be paid back over the useful life of the equipment.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • fewer stops is not always a good thing.
    and bus schedule needs to include Every stop and it’s approximate time, so that people won’t have to wait 10 minutes for their bus in the cold/rain/scorching sun.

    i also didn’t find anything about adding roof covered benches to each stop. you know so elderly or disabled people won’t have to stand too long.

    i also didn’t find the addition of hours notably on saturday and sunday, and especially during the night time, you know when half the town (especially during school year) is out partying and wants to be able to return home after 9 pm.

    i am hoping to be pleasantly surprised, but i have a feeling this new plan will not really touch on the points i listed, which will – at least- change nothing. will if they move the stop next to my home it will matter alot and just end up pissing me off.

  • Fewer stops means the bus will slow down, pull over, wait for passengers to load, pull back into traffic, and resume speed less frequently, allowing buses to better stay on schedule and for the overall trip time to be faster. Some people may have to walk slightly further to reach a stop or when they get off. RIPTA did not just look at a map and randomly pull out bus stops, they’ve spent over a year studying the entire system, figuring out where people are coming from and going to, and how many people utilize each stop and used that information in deciding which stops to consolidate.

    In order to have each stop listed on each schedule they would all need to be printed on large paper and unfold many times. There would be a cost involved in that, and the density of information would remove clarity. People learn quickly how many minutes they are from the nearest timed stop. GPS on the buses will give rider access to real time information via the web, smart phones, and via text on non-smart phones providing riders with more accurate information than any printed timetable ever could.

    RIPTA can not afford to build and maintain covered shelters at every bus stop in the system, no transit agency does that. They focus the placement of shelters and high use stops with an emphasis on ‘inbound” stops as most riders are on a commuter pattern and do their actual waiting at inbound stops, and get off and walk away from outbound stops. Outbound stops get shelters if there are a lot of riders using the stop. At some point, people need to have personal responsibility, I walk everywhere and carry an umbrella when I need one.

    The Comprehensive Operational Analysis page on RIPTA’s website lists all the proposed service changes by line, some include better evening and weekend service if it was deemed there is a demand for such services on the line to be satisfied. RIPTA would love to have the resources to run more buses, but the Assembly constantly hamstrings their funding. Talk to your Assembly Members and tell them to support the O’Grady Bill is you want to see the state provide predictable funding to RIPTA.

  • Although I’m with you on most of your points, Jef, I don’t think reducing the number of bus stops will significantly impact bus speed or timeliness. The same people will ride the buses, so they’ll move to the newer stops, further apart. That means longer wait times as more people are getting on and off the bus at those stops. I think it will more or less even itself out.

    From what I’ve seen, most significant non-traffic bus delays seem to be caused by either pokey passengers boarding and deboarding, or the loading and unloading of passengers in wheelchairs, which is a slow process (though well worth it).

  • The time impact of having five guys get on and four guys get off at one bus stop is significantly less than the time impact of having three guys get on and three guys get off at one bus stop, then the bus stops again in half a block to pick up two more guys and drop off one more.

    It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of the stops being eliminated are time-expensive front-door-service stops that require pulling off of the main road, and eliminating those has a far greater impact than eliminating extra signs on any given block.

  • RIPTA is also moving its fleet to low floor buses meaning passengers in wheelchairs can roll right into the front door. No more need for the driver to shut down the bus, walk to the back, and fuss with a lift that rarely works right.

  • RIPTA needs to implement a policy where passengers exiting the bus use the back door, allowing passengers boarding the bus to immediately get on, rather than having to wait for the people exiting to alight.

  • Towne Street: Why? If there’s only one or two people getting off at a stop, and they’re all sitting at the front of the bus, why should the bus have to wait for them to make their way to the back and get off? If they are of limited mobility, why should they have to try and leave their seat while the bus is moving and walk to the back door?

    At stops where there’s ten or fifteen or even more people getting off of the bus, rear door exit only makes even less sense – now, in addition to the aforementioned problem of making people walk from the front of the bus to the rear door, you’ve got a significant crowding issue as everyone tries to exit through the same one door at the same time, and this is actually going to end up making the alighting process go slower than if both doors were available for exiting.

    It’s almost as bad an idea as the MBTA’s “front door only” policy for the Green Line and for much the same reason.

  • Back door exiting is a common policy, New York encourages it. Common sense exceptions are made, and no one is ever forced to use the back door.

    The problem with RIPTA is many drivers insist on not opening the back door, even when it makes sense. I had a shouting match with a driver once who refused to open the back door, told me he was not allowed to, LIES!

  • Oh. I thought, for whatever reason, “back door” meant “back door only.”

    I retract my opposition.

  • Oh Jeff – there’s one time I pulled the cord to signal my stop and the driver just drove on. That was the day my Italian side came out in full force. I recall saying something to the effect of “Hey you fucking jackass, think you missed a stop back there? Stop the fucking bus RIGHT NOW.” And he did, opened the doors and myself and few other people got out.

    One guy thanked me for saying what I said. I can’t help myself sometimes.

    And if I’m at the rear of the bus I’ll shout “BACK DOOR!” or even “OPEN THE BACK DOOR!” and if I’m in a cheeky mood “Abre la puerta!”

  • I think fewer bus stops will speed trips a bit, but there is a tradeoff in that walks to bus stops will be longer. This is no problem for many, but it can be problematic for some elderly, folks with disabilities, or have heavy packages, or in bad wealther, especially when the sidewalks are icy or the snow (as too foten) has not been removed. At the COA hearing I suggested that drivers be allowed (but not required) to let passengers off at convenient locations even if not an offical stop (called a “courtesy stop” by some). There is also a security reason – think of getting off an extra two blocks away in an iffy neighborhood after dark. There is evidence that even the percepetion of lack of security is a problem. Such a system might not even slow trips very much since the passenger will have to get off somewhere anyway. It wouldn’t work for passengers wanting to get on a bus, that would have to be at a stop, but I was told transit systems don;t do courtesy stops, even for passengers wanting to get off.
    I would say, why not?

  • I heard that the Hub Central location at Kennedy Plaza is going out and there won’t be a centralized location is this true? Thank you.

  • I think taking stop is bad. Ex. University heights stop has a lot of people getting out there; I leave there and have leg problems and pick up my grocery on my way home from work and have to walk up the hill to my apt.Now I having to get off at the plaza and walk back plus up the hill “terrible”. Ripta needs to put that stop back.It is imperative to many people complaining about it. This stop usually have at least 3 to 5 people getting out and headed for Olney Street.

    Must of the stop they keep taking out all over the place busy stops. How about people who use them every day of the week because their transportation is the bus. Like the stop at University Heights I leave by camp street wish mean I have to up the hill and down the cash a bus with knees problems and cramps is not easy adding to my misery is not fair. I heard a lot complain from other passengers too.
    I hope they put it back soon.

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