R.I. Transit Riders Urge Governor to Halt Rollout of RIDOT’s Flawed Bus Plan and Start Working with the Community to Develop a Better One
August 3, 2021
While Rhode Island Transit Riders is strongly opposed to all iterations of the Department of Transportation’s Multi-Hub Bus System, our organization is agreeable to efforts to improve public space in downtown Providence, so long as those improvements either directly benefit bus riders or do not diminish the existing quality of transit service in Rhode Island.
From our experience with the multi-hub proposal, we believe there are two non-negotiable principles that any future plan should embody: centrality and transparency.
The central bus hub must be central. Kennedy Plaza accommodates a lot of transfers, and we believe a common point of transfer for most routes will continue to be vital to the success and growth of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority system.
The process must be transparent. RIDOT’s multi-hub proposal has been hallmarked by contradictory goals, unfounded assumptions and a lack of any meaningful dialogue with transit riders. Of course, any plan for a central hub must also be safe and responsibly financed, and we believe a transparent and responsive process will be vital in ensuring that these and other additional requirements are satisfied.
In the past several years, a number of plans for downtown transit have been presented, including the Providence Intermodal Transit Center at the train station and the city of Providence’s 2017 plan for Washington Street. There have also been a number of improvements proposed for the existing hub at Kennedy Plaza.
We cannot strictly endorse any of these plans, given that they are conceptual and not being actively pursued, but some of these alternatives had real promise. We would welcome discussions of reviving earlier proposals, so long as those efforts retain hub centrality and so long as the discussions are part of a truly public process.
Chris Sarli is the co-coordinator of Rhode Island Transit Riders.