A list of proposed changes to RIPTA services has been completed and it includes some big changes for Warwick, including a new bus hub and perfected interlink service from T.F. Green.
To provide more efficient service to this portion of the state, it has been proposed that a new bus hub be created at the Warwick Mall.
“Before, every bus had to go through Providence. Through this COA process, we realized there are a number of buses that don’t need to go through there,” said Mayor Scott Avedisian, chair of the Board of Directors at RIPTA.
The COA, or Comprehensive Operational Analysis, was conducted by RIPTA early this year to evaluate their service and how they could operate better.
The COA initially resulted in two sets of recommended changes, but it has now been brought down to one list, including the new hub at the Warwick Mall.
The people at RIPTA also believe the hub will benefit people traveling along various routes.
“It will provide really great connections to Downtown Providence. Or if you want to take Route 66 to URI, that will now be easier from Warwick,” said Amy Pettine, director of planning and marketing for RIPTA.
As mayor of the city, Avedisian also sees the hub as beneficial to Warwick’s economic development.
“We will be bringing many more passengers to the area and maybe many more shoppers,” said Avedisian, who adds the new station will change the Route 2 area into a transportation hub for the area, along with added service on Jefferson Boulevard.
In addition to the Warwick Mall hub, the bus system linking the airport, train station, car rentals and bus stops will be made more efficient should these recommendations be approved.
Avedisian said the new system would allow for people to rely on the bus and trains to get to the airport on time for their flights.
“If we say we are going to be there, we are there,” said Avedisian. “So if the bus is always there every 30 minutes, you can plan to get to the airport on time.”
The recommendation would improve the system that is already in place. Individuals coming into T.F. Green can use the People Mover to get to the train station, where the bus stops and car rentals are also located.
Avedisian added that RIPTA would attempt to make the schedule run at 15-minute intervals, or 30-minute intervals for longer trips.
In Warwick, many residents of Buttonwoods were concerned about the recommendation to cancel Bus 8 service. Pettine believes those concerns have been addressed through changes in two other routes. She spelled out the new routes in an e-mail to the Beacon:
“Route 14 (West Bay) would be re-routed between Centerville Road and I-95 along Jefferson Boulevard. This change opens up one-seat ride service to the jobs on Jefferson Boulevard to people from Apponaug and points south.
Route 29 Kent County Connector would be re-routed via Buttonwoods. Buttonwoods Avenue will not have service, but Main Avenue will be covered. Because 29 is a cross-town route, people boarding this route going to Providence will have to transfer to either Route 14 (at Main and Jefferson), or Route 3 (at Warwick Avenue and Sandy Lane).”
Avedisian added that almost every proposed change is in an effort to make RIPTA service easy, effective and reliable.
“We are not just the last ditch effort to move people,” said Avedisian, who believes these changes will increase ridership.
The mayor said that for many, taking the bus to work is not convenient. Even he admits it would take three bus changes and three hours to get from his home in Pawtuxet to City Hall each day, a five-minute drive.
During a discussion in the mayor’s office, he said that previously, a bus’s route would travel between point A and point B all day. Avedisian explained that the COA said people were not traveling those routes at certain times of the day, so now routes could travel to point C during the day.
There are also recommendations to improve communication with how to buy tickets and what the routes are to help first-time riders.
“There are changes that will benefit folks and changes that will affect others in terms of routes. I believe the benefit will outweigh the other changes,” said Pettine.
This is why RIPTA will be hosting public hearings regarding the recommendation beginning in late-May.
While previous meetings could be seen as more of a conversation, Pettine said these will be more along the lines of a formal hearing but she assures that all comments will be recorded and passed along to the Board of Directors along with the final list of recommendations.
One thing both Avedisian and Pettine addressed was that these changes were cost-neutral, meaning the proposed changes would neither cost nor save RIPTA any money.
Pettine also acknowledged that not all problems would be solved.
“We recognize there are still needs that we cannot accommodate with our current budget,” she said. “We are doing the best we can with what we have.”
Avedisian sees the proposed changes as a great resource for both RIPTA and Warwick.
“If we have more riders for the same cost, that is great for us,” said the mayor, who believes improving service to ensure consistency will allow people to have a sense of comfort when using public transportation.
In Warwick, two hearings are scheduled for June 4 at City Hall. The first will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. and the second will be 6 to 8 p.m.
There are 10 other hearings scheduled throughout the state; those dates and times can be found on RIPTA’s website.