Providence RIPTA Services

Arlington

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I noticed in the discussion of Providence's proposed streetcar that there were express-bus projects and there didn't seem to be a place to discuss them. (I've named this so it can take the Streetcar posts out of the "Providence Projects" thread if people like that)

First, consider the proposed R-Line which will overlay the two busiest bus routes in the system: Route 99 (on the north, serving Pawtucket) and Route 11 (serving Broad St on the south) and connecting the two of them with a routing connecting to the Amtrak Station:



Much better detail, which gives a sense of how far apart the limited stops are, is available here:
In this overview map and the official site:http://www.ripta.com/r-line-
 

Arlington

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THere is also a kind of system map found here:
http://providencecoreconnector.com/map/

Basically the R-Line is proposed to be a limited stop service from Pawtucket to Broad Street in Cranston. If it works, it seems to me they should then run it on Post Road (Route 1) to the Airport.
 

Commuting Boston Student

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It's a travesty that RIPTA doesn't make their system map available on their website for download or viewing except by some ridiculous plugin I do not have nor care to get.

That having been said, what I've seen so far of the R-Line is promising, and a great first step forward.

I'm not putting it past RIPTA not to make an absolute mess of things at this point, though.
 

Commuting Boston Student

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It's a travesty that RIPTA doesn't make their system map available on their website for download or viewing except by some ridiculous plugin I do not have nor care to get.
Nevermind, figured out how to get to the real files.

I also figured out that the reason they are using the ridiculous zoom.it API is because half of their map is absurdly, unreasonably huge - this is a 14100 x 21292 pixel image.

The other half of their map (Greater Providence) is fine, though. Only 7199 x 10741 pixels.
 

Ron Newman

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Why doesn't RIPTA run buses across the state line to serve South Attleboro station, connecting it to Pawtucket? The Attleboro transit authority runs a bus line into Pawtucket, so there can't be any legal barrier to multi-state service.
 

Commuting Boston Student

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Why doesn't RIPTA run buses across the state line to serve South Attleboro station, connecting it to Pawtucket? The Attleboro transit authority runs a bus line into Pawtucket, so there can't be any legal barrier to multi-state service.
Not necessarily true. There could be a legal barrier on the state level preventing RIPTA from operating outside of the state. If such a barrier existed on the Rhode Island side but not the Massachusetts side, it would explain this discrepancy.

More pragmatically, the bus line you're referring to connects Pawtucket to Attleboro station, so there's no need to connect South Attleboro station as well. Furthermore, the R-Line is going to run straight over the proposed location of the Pawtucket/Central Falls infill, which is going to connect South Attleboro and Pawtucket far better than a bus line between the Transit Center and South Attleboro station would.
 

Frankie811

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I can't remember the law or exact terminology, but MA and RI busus cannot cross state lines unless it has been mutually agreed upon, like when GATRA (Greater Attleboro/Taunton Regional Transit Authority) ran buses between downtown Taunton and downtown Providence. This route was subsidised by one of the two states. This run ended several years ago because of low ridership.
 

Frankie811

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Oh, look what I found. Gotta love that Google. :)

RIPTA buses may stop near Mass. trains



In a recent interview with Providence Business News, John Flaherty, co-chair of the Coalition for Transportation Choices, said the state has been prevented from running a bus directly to the South Attleboro station because of federal rules which bar bus systems that receive federal money such as RIPTA from crossing state lines.

By building the turnaround just inside of Rhode Island, RIPTA would avoid needing to cross into Massachusetts.

http://www.pbn.com/RIPTA-buses-may-stop-near-Mass-trains,46942
 

Ron Newman

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GATRA still runs at least one bus route into Rhode Island, according to their website. And lots of New Jersey Transit trains (maybe some buses, too?) serve Manhattan.
 

Matthew

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Lots and lots of NJTransit buses go into Manhattan.

A 35 mph moving line of buses shuffles around the "helix" into the Lincoln tunnel XBL during morning rush, many of them NJT, and from there into the Port Authority NY/NJ bus terminal. And also there's buses on the other Hudson river crossings. So there's that.
 

Commuting Boston Student

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Oh, look what I found. Gotta love that Google. :)

RIPTA buses may stop near Mass. trains



In a recent interview with Providence Business News, John Flaherty, co-chair of the Coalition for Transportation Choices, said the state has been prevented from running a bus directly to the South Attleboro station because of federal rules which bar bus systems that receive federal money such as RIPTA from crossing state lines.

By building the turnaround just inside of Rhode Island, RIPTA would avoid needing to cross into Massachusetts.

http://www.pbn.com/RIPTA-buses-may-stop-near-Mass-trains,46942
Dated Christmas Eve... 2009.

So much for that!
 

Commuting Boston Student

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See, my real problem with RIPTA is that there's zero or near-zero impact things they can be doing right now to drastically improve their service, but they're not doing any of them.

These require zero new roads, bridges, bus lanes or tunnels. Some creative minor scheduling adjustments and the abolishment of the accursed 'Park-n-Rides' bus (yes! It's literally designated Park 'n' Rides!) most likely takes care of the South County Service and both extensions, and I don't see any reason why you couldn't cover the other two new services with five new buses or less.

Hell, the 66 reroute only requires someone to get a clue and figure out that maybe, just maybe, our shiny new Wickford Junction train station is a better place to stop the bus than A PARK AND RIDE THAT'S HALF A MILE AWAY FROM IT.

If even one of those service changes went into effect at any point in the next five years, I'd be overjoyed. Hell, all six of them probably combine to a total cost of less than $2 million and 80% of THAT is likely the cost of the new buses.
 

Commuting Boston Student

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Does anyone know when the improvements to Kingston and Westerly Stations are going to be completed, and if and when commuter rail service to Westerly under RIDOT is scheduled to start?

I ask because, as you may or may not be aware, RIPTA is in the middle of conducting a Comprehensive Operational Analysis, including surveys and general commentary submission.

Of course, I've submitted some general comments already (and you can probably guess which ones are mine), but I was thinking of putting together something a bit more comprehensive of my own (a proposal for better integrating RIPTA with the Commuter Rail, to be precise) and I want to make sure everything is correct before I do so.

If you guys would be interested, I'd keep drafts of what I plan on sending to RIPTA up to date in this thread as well.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Kingston's under renovation now for high platforms and 3rd track. I think they'll be done by end of 2013. Westerly needs its grant application approved, but Amtrak is plucking the stations it owns one by one so that is next in the queue after Kingston. I bet that gets funded next year and starts in '14 because they already know what they're going to do and the expense is comparable with Kingston. At some point after that they'll keep pushing west to take care of Mystic and close out renovations of the last stop east of NYC that they own outright.

RIDOT is targeting 2018-20 for initiation of service. I would bet on the latter just because that's usually how it goes. Probably will be limited service at the start because intermediate stops like Cranston and Davisville will be infilled later. The key piece of infrastructure needed is Pawtucket station and the reconfiguration and upgrade of all the freight track Providence-north. All of that is in final design and will certainly be done within 4-5 years because it serves the Providence Line, but Pawtucket would be RIDOT's turnback and layover for the service. They'd also have to add northbound-side platforms at T.F. Green and Wickford + the requisite crossover work, but those are cheap and easy jobs because the stations are pre-prepped to just drop the new platforms in-place. Really not too much construction work to do to get the NEC totally ready on the existing stops for starter service. It mainly hinges on Pawtucket happening on-time, which seems likely.

Vehicle procurements are going to be interesting. If they buy new that's usually 4 years from bid to build unless they do what Shore Line East did and just bought secondhand diesel equipment for starters. And also depends a lot on how they set up the operator bids. If Amtrak runs it they definitely have to do like SLE and buy their own equipment. If the T runs it they can do pool service with the existing Providence Line fleet since they already have an ownership stake, and the T would procure expansion equipment to flesh out the pool. It times exactly when they have to procure new locomotives to replace the 1988-era F40's and the last half of the GP40 fleet remaining after the current new order...and the dilemma on whether they finally go electric or be bullheaded (and piss off Amtrak) about clinging to their diesels.

They also have to figure out what they're doing for fare collection. Tether off the MBCR fare structure or go homegrown with something integrated to RIPTA?
 

Commuting Boston Student

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Kingston's under renovation now for high platforms and 3rd track. I think they'll be done by end of 2013. Westerly needs its grant application approved, but Amtrak is plucking the stations it owns one by one so that is next in the queue after Kingston. I bet that gets funded next year and starts in '14 because they already know what they're going to do and the expense is comparable with Kingston. At some point after that they'll keep pushing west to take care of Mystic and close out renovations of the last stop east of NYC that they own outright.

RIDOT is targeting 2018-20 for initiation of service. I would bet on the latter just because that's usually how it goes. Probably will be limited service at the start because intermediate stops like Cranston and Davisville will be infilled later. The key piece of infrastructure needed is Pawtucket station and the reconfiguration and upgrade of all the freight track Providence-north. All of that is in final design and will certainly be done within 4-5 years because it serves the Providence Line, but Pawtucket would be RIDOT's turnback and layover for the service. They'd also have to add northbound-side platforms at T.F. Green and Wickford + the requisite crossover work, but those are cheap and easy jobs because the stations are pre-prepped to just drop the new platforms in-place. Really not too much construction work to do to get the NEC totally ready on the existing stops for starter service. It mainly hinges on Pawtucket happening on-time, which seems likely.

Vehicle procurements are going to be interesting. If they buy new that's usually 4 years from bid to build unless they do what Shore Line East did and just bought secondhand diesel equipment for starters. And also depends a lot on how they set up the operator bids. If Amtrak runs it they definitely have to do like SLE and buy their own equipment. If the T runs it they can do pool service with the existing Providence Line fleet since they already have an ownership stake, and the T would procure expansion equipment to flesh out the pool. It times exactly when they have to procure new locomotives to replace the 1988-era F40's and the last half of the GP40 fleet remaining after the current new order...and the dilemma on whether they finally go electric or be bullheaded (and piss off Amtrak) about clinging to their diesels.

They also have to figure out what they're doing for fare collection. Tether off the MBCR fare structure or go homegrown with something integrated to RIPTA?
Well, here's what a full-build RIDOT line looks like Westerly to Woonsocket if they crib the MBCR fare structure and figure ~10 miles = 1 zone.

Lines up surprisingly well for a future Franklin Line extension to (Zone 7) Blackstone as well. Extending to Worcester would require rezoning but that's too far in the future to seriously impact considerations on Day 1 service.

It costs $2 for a single seat ride on any RIPTA bus. One transfer is $2.50. Extending the MBCR fare tables gets us $2.50 Pawtucket-Olneyville, Cranston-East Greenwich, or Woonsocket - Lincoln; and $3 Woonsocket-Providence or Providence-Airport. Interlining fares isn't that difficult - you take a $.50 transfer off the bus with you and use that for your Interzone 1 fare, or use that and pay another $.50 on the train for Interzone 2. ($.75 for Interzone 3.) Coming from the other direction, a punched ticket or receipt from the train should be accepted as valid payment to board a bus - it's that simple.

The thrust of what I'm trying to put together is that even at current build (five stations only), we're not only failing to capitalize on our rail infrastructure, we're actively squandering it:
  • 62 buses daily stop at the Route 102&2 Park 'n' Ride, 1/2 a mile from Wickford Junction. 4 out of those 62 also stop at Wickford Junction. The park 'n' ride is free, but don't worry, the 1/2 mile walk to Wickford is extremely unfriendly to pedestrians.
  • 55 buses daily stop at Kingston Station - 36 #66 buses pass through, and 19 #64 buses either originate or terminate here. Of these, maybe five at most are actually timed to facilitate transfers to or from any of the 18 daily Amtrak arrivals at Kingston.
  • Westerly isn't even afforded a real fixed bus route. The #90 Park 'n' Rides bus originates and terminates from Westerly Station (two originating in the morning, two terminating in the evening - four total), but other than that, Westerly's only service is an awful Flex Route. (Westerly's surrounding towns feature no transit whatsoever.)
Now, I get that start-up service is going to be limited. It certainly has to be. That's no reason NOT to start growing some of the demand now, and it's certainly no reason to continue actively shooting Wickford Junction in the foot.

Yes, Wickford is overbuilt. No, it probably wasn't the best choice of which station to build. But it's there, now, and our future successes rely on that station being the best damn station it can possibly be or else we're never getting the approval for anything else. We're up to about 40 daily boardings there. That's completely pathetic.

It would cost us nothing to eliminate 102&2 Park 'n' Ride as a stop on the 66, and send all 62 of those buses to Wickford instead. It would cost us nothing to adjust the 64's schedule with Amtrak trains in mind, and then have the 64 be Newport's link to the Amtrak services.

It would cost us only political willpower to set up bus transfer + $0.75 boarding fares for Wickford - Providence or vice versa, and free rides on the 66 with a valid Interzone 3 ticket or pass.

Westerly, like most things in Rhode Island, isn't terribly big. You can cover the entire city in a single fixed bus route between the train station and Watch Hill - no flex bus required.

Using the infrastructure in place for the terrible Park 'n' Rides bus, we could put in a fixed bus route Westerly Station - Ashaway - Richmond - Kingston Station - URI, and anticipate that most people riding that bus and transferring to the 66 are going to be people riding RIDOT's train once it's up and running.

Kingston Station isn't walkable to/from URI. The 66, 64 and whatever Westerly - URI bus gets put in are going to be the primary non-driving way to get between the two. Those schedules can all be consolidated, the same way the 50/55/56/57 are at the Amtrak Station in Providence, to have a bus departing for URI every 20 minutes. That's a big fucking deal.

None of these things are particularly outlandish, and none of them cost you more than a handful of new buses and knocking some heads together. It's NOT THAT HARD to fix the problems that RIPTA has.
 

jass

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RE: Fares.

Interzone fares are super confusing. At that point, it would be easier to recode the fare machines to let you buy based on destination.

Screen 3
Buy by zone
|-------------Zone 1, 2, 3 etc
Buy by station
|-------------Station a, b, c etc

So you select station y, it prints out the appropriately zoned ticket.
 

Commuting Boston Student

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RE: Fares.

Interzone fares are super confusing. At that point, it would be easier to recode the fare machines to let you buy based on destination.

Screen 3
Buy by zone
|-------------Zone 1, 2, 3 etc
Buy by station
|-------------Station a, b, c etc

So you select station y, it prints out the appropriately zoned ticket.
It's only really important to have zones at all for continuity with Providence Line trains for cross-compatibility purposes on the stretch between Providence and the Airport. Frankly, that's the only reason I'm suggesting we interline the zones - that Woonsocket/Blackstone lines up with the zone on a hypothetical Franklin Line extension is a useful coincidence only. (And really, is the Franklin Line ever going to be extended there? I doubt it.)
 

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