Management & Operations

Rhode Island 'state of the system' report to inform transportation plan

Posted on May 10, 2019

How Rhode Islanders use public transportation is one of the questions answered in a new report that details how well current forms of public transportation — including bus, rail, and ferry — are performing in the state. The “State of the System” report is being released as three state agencies continue their work on Rhode Island’s first Transit Master Plan.

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), and the Division of Statewide Planning began working on the Master Plan a few months ago and the new “State of the System” report is an important part of the process as they look to determine how public transportation can best serve Rhode Island in the future.

Called “Transit Forward RI,” the Master Plan will envision how Rhode Island’s transit network should be enhanced and developed to best meet the public’s needs. It will recommend near and long-term investments to achieve these goals. The Master Plan is expected to be finalized by the end of this year. The new “State of the System” report can be viewed here.

“This ‘State of the System’ report is extremely valuable in its own right and includes a wealth of information on the different modes of transit service we have,” said Scott Avedisian, CEO of RIPTA. “It’s even more valuable because it is providing a foundation for the future as we continue to work with our partners on the state’s first transit master plan.”

The 100-plus page State of the System report provides a comprehensive overview of all bus, rail, and water transportation services operating in the state today. It looks at factors such as who uses transit in Rhode Island, which bus routes have the highest ridership, and where there will be a need for new or expanded services over the next few decades. The report also examines some of the challenges affecting the use of transit and infrastructure improvements that can make to support transit.

The www.TransitForwardRI.com website now features an interactive transit map that allows the public to tag existing parts of the state’s transit network and add their own comments. They will have the option of drawing suggested new elements such as bus routes, transit hubs, train stations, park-and-ride lots, or ferry routes. The website will also soon host an interactive forum for public comment.

A sample of some of the many interesting facts that can be found in the new State of the System report:

  • Overall public transit ridership in Rhode Island is higher than other southern New England cities, such as Worcester and Hartford, and higher than some larger cities around the U.S. such as Kansas City and Indianapolis.
  • There are several areas of the state beyond greater Providence (e.g. Newport, Woonsocket, Narragansett, South Kingston, Warwick, Cranston, and Westerly) where the density of activity could support additional transit options.
  • The urban core surrounding Providence could effectively support more frequent bus service, and faster, more frequent rail service to Boston.
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