Grow Smart Seeks Commitment to Funding Basics of Transit Service Before Proceeding With New Hub


The following letter was sent March 1 by Grow Smart Rhode Island to Gov. Daniel J. McKee, Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi, and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio.

Grow Smart Rhode Island seeks your leadership and commitment to take urgent and decisive action to stabilize and improve public transit service across Rhode Island before there is any further action to establish a new transit hub facility in Providence.

We share deep concerns with fellow riders about the impacts of moving the current transit hub to the outskirts of downtown. We believe the I-195 site is far removed from many of the destinations where passengers are actually going. However, we are even more concerned about the sorry state of our transit system, the continued impacts of chronic underfunding and the lack of adequate service to meet the needs of so many Rhode Islanders — and their employers — who rely on it.

At this time, we respectfully ask that you temporarily pause further action on a new hub facility until the public is assured that transit service itself is prioritized. The mobility, freedom, and access to jobs, schools, health care and all of life’s essentials is far more urgent and vital to transit passengers than a new terminal facility.

In RIPTA, we know that we have an efficient transit service that’s been chronically underfunded for decades. It’s why the agency is once again being forced to propose additional service cuts, which would further reduce ridership, mobility and freedom, while isolating the most vulnerable. These latest cuts, if enacted, would follow previous service cuts made in 2022.

The relative level of state funding for RIPTA has been significantly below that of most other states in our region, despite Rhode Island being the second-most urbanized state in the nation and well-suited to the benefits of a high-quality transit system.

Rhode Island, however, is fortunate to have a visionary and data-driven Transit Master Plan for making transit work better for all. We therefore ask that you commit to beginning the 16-year implementation of this publicly vetted and state-adopted plan, making it a system that works better for existing riders while competing for more of the 77% of our state’s population who live within a 10-minute walk of a bus stop.

Aside from being a driver of economic development, the plan is a sound strategy for achieving the state’s climate-action goals, as well as an investment in equity and justice. And it can ease our housing crisis too, boosting efficient and affordable transit-oriented housing production, while also revitalizing our city and town centers, Main Street districts and commercial corridors.

A legislative proposal (H7774) was introduced this week by Rep. Karen Alzate that has earned 31 co-signers. It would address RIPTA’s longstanding funding challenge and driver shortage, while setting us on a path to implementing the transformation of public transit across Rhode Island.

With a commitment to strengthening the fundamentals of good public transport, we would then welcome the opportunity to provide our rider and community development perspective to optimize the many public benefits of transit hub investments.

Thank you for your consideration and for your public service.

Scott Wolf is Grow Smart’s executive director and John Flaherty is the organization’s deputy director.


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  1. That the Governor would even consider moving bUses away from Kennedy plaza and building a new terminal/hub at a time that RIPTA is cutting service and looking at big deficits says the Governor is an idioty. FIRE ALVITI

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