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RIPTA and Elected Leaders Celebrate Ribbon Cutting on State’s First Rapid Bus Line

June 27, 2014

Officials from the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), Federal Transit Administration, the Congressional Delegation, and the City of Providence joined Governor Lincoln Chafee for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially celebrate the launch of RIPTA’s first Rapid Bus line, the R-Line.

RIPTA converted its two highest used bus routes in the state (Routes 11 and 99) into one single Rapid Bus route called the R-Line featuring faster, higher-quality service.  This new service, launched on Saturday, June 21, 2014, will run along North Main and Broad Streets, connecting both Pawtucket and South Providence to downtown Providence.   The R-Line features uniquely branded stops, transit signal priority, Art in Transit bus shelters, frequent service, uniquely branded buses and added amenities that will significantly improve the speed and attractiveness of bus service.   The R-Line is expected to improve travel time by up to 12% for passengers in the 7 mile corridor; service runs every 10 minutes during the day and every 20 minutes at night.

Transit Signal Priority (TSP) System

With a goal of improving speeds and efficiency along the R-Line route, RIPTA is rolling out the state’s first Transit Signal Priority (TSP) system.  The TSP system will hold traffic signals green, allowing R-Line passengers to shave time off of their commutes and improving on-time performance.  With this implementation, these intersections will create less dwell time as buses will have the priority to pass through them more quickly.  Also, TSP will better synchronize a series of intersections, which will allow all traffic to move down the corridor with more efficiency.  RIPTA’s estimates show that the TSP system will save RIPTA approximately 30 service hours per weekday.  Over the course of a year, this savings will translate into approximately 7,650 fewer hours of service required to complete the same amount of work.  This will generate a savings for RIPTA of nearly $700,000 annually, which can be used to provide more service on this high ridership route.

Art in Transit

RIPTA and the City of Providence partnered together to implement bus stop, streetscape, and public art enhancements along the North Main and Broad Street corridors.   Transit and pedestrian amenities along each corridor have a cohesive look that reflects local neighborhood culture, history, and heritage.  The R-Line

features specialized bus shelters that incorporate artistic elements into a standard design structure. Designs include art panels, freestanding art screens and artistic seating elements. Art in Transit engages RIPTA passengers and connects people and places along the transit corridors in a meaningful way.   The City of Providence worked with neighborhood stakeholders and cultural organizations to develop themes that reinforce each corridor’s identity and unique cultural heritage. Artists were required to select a corridor (Broad or Main Street), propose a creative concept that built upon the corridor cultural themes and translate that vision to concept drawings for panels and/or seating.

As part of the Art in Transit program created by this partnership, thirteen artist/fabricator teams were ultimately selected to produce panels and seating arrangements for the R-Line.

 “Planning for the R-line involved a great deal of community input.  This Rapid bus route reflects what the community told us they wanted-a higher level of faster and more comfortable service,” said RIPTA CEO Raymond Studley.   “RIPTA understands the importance of working with both the community and elected officials to make a transit vision a reality.”

“The launch of the R-line, the new TSP system, and a variety of amenities, including new shelters, bike racks, and benches, and 16 sites that will feature fantastic public art, are just the latest in a series of improvements RIPTA has been making to ensure a better, more efficient and enjoyable experience for its customers,” said Mayor Scott Avedisian, chairman of RIPTA’s board of directors. “The R-line will significantly impact the commute of thousands of Rhode Islanders by providing faster, higher-quality service, and will generate nearly $700,000 in savings – money that can be used for further improvements to the R-line routes and toward our overall goal of providing great public transit options for our state.”

“The R-Line bus routes further our goal of operating a customer-friendly public transportation system that provides the best possible service to the people of Rhode Island,” Governor Chafee said. “This new innovation incorporates artwork reflecting the characteristics of the neighborhoods along each route and gets riders to their destinations quickly.”

 “Public transportation helps drive our economy.  The R-line and the upgrades that come with it are about making our transit system faster, more efficient, and more dependable for passengers who rely on RIPTA to get around,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee.  “Investing in RIPTA pays dividends for local businesses and our communities and helps connect more Rhode Islanders with jobs and opportunities.”

 “Rhode Island residents and businesses need fast, reliable options for getting where they need to go,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  “I hope this new line will encourage more people to use public transit, and I congratulate RIPTA and the cities of Providence and Pawtucket on this smart investment.”

 “RIPTA provides an important public service that connects Rhode Islanders with jobs, health care, education and community resources,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “This new Rapid Bus line will further enhance that service by cutting down on commute times while saving money across the system, and I am particularly pleased to see the efforts RIPTA has undertaken to engage local artists in order to beautify neighborhoods and put Providence’s heritage on display.”

 “I am delighted to join with my colleagues in federal, state, and local government to celebrate the new rapid transit bus line and I want to congratulate RIPTA on their dedicated work to make this project a reality right here in Providence,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “The R-Line will not only better connect Rhode Islanders to transportation services, but also increase their access to downtown Providence’s shops, restaurants and amenities like never before. This project is a testament to the great work that can be done combining infrastructure investments, economic innovation, and urban artistic spirit, and I am very proud to honor that work today.”

 “A strong public transit system is an important component to building a strong economy and a thriving city. Rhode Island’s first rapid transit bus line and the Art in Transit project are great steps forward as the City of Providence works with RIPTA to improve public transit and our quality of life in Providence and Rhode Island,” said Mayor Angel Taveras.

 “The Federal Transit Administration is proud to join you in celebrating the R-Line,” said Deputy Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan. “The people of Rhode Island can now experience the convenience and faster commutes provided by bus rapid transit. To make more good projects like this one possible, the Obama Administration’s GROW AMERICA Act would increase funding for transit by 70%, including bus rapid transit.”

 “HUD is proud to be a partner in helping to deliver innovative and improved transportation options to Rhode Island residents,” said Nancy Smith Greer, Rhode Island Field Office Director.

Planning for the R-Line was supported through a Transportation Corridors to Livable Communities Grant through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.  The $4.2M capital cost of the project was funded by the Federal Transit Administration, the cities of Providence and Pawtucket, and RIPTA.

For a more information, please call 401-781-9400 or visit ripta.com