Contact: Randall Rose, RI Transit
Riders, (401) 419-6199, email@example.com
In an open letter to Gov. Gina Raimondo and other leaders, the Rhode Island
Transit Riders and other community groups raised concerns about proposals that
have been floated to reduce or scatter the main hub of the state's public
transit system at Kennedy Plaza. The groups defended the importance of this
central transit hub, and called for a more open process where people who use
Kennedy Plaza would be listened to.
Patricia Raub, coordinator of the Rhode Island Transit Riders, said "The
state's central bus hub at Kennedy Plaza plays a key role in keeping our mass
transit system accessible and usable. A well-designed bus hub should be placed
for easy foot traffic at a central downtown location where streets converge,
which is where Kennedy Plaza is now. The students, seniors, disabled people, and
commuters who use Rhode Island's transit system need to be among the first
people consulted on transit, not the last."
The letter was spearheaded by the Rhode
Island Transit Riders, formerly known as RIPTA Riders Alliance.
January 21, 2020
Dear Governor Raimondo:
We write with serious concerns over the direction that your administration has
taken regarding the core of the state’s mass transit system in past months.
While we welcome your stated intention to expand transit as mentioned in your
State of the State speech, we believe it is essential to work with all
stakeholders when planning changes to our transit system, with particular
emphasis on those who actually use public transit. The State’s Transit Master
Plan that’s under development has been a model for engaging well with
stakeholders. However, there have been more troubling cases, such as the draft
plan from the Office of the Governor that was presented to the Providence
Foundation last September.
That plan called for breaking up the state’s central bus hub in Kennedy Plaza
and scattering hub functions to distant and inconvenient locations. It was only
presented in private to this one group, and there was never an opportunity for
bus riders to discuss it in a public hearing. An analysis by RI Transit Riders
showed that the draft plan would entail long walks to transfer between buses
for disabled people, seniors, students, office commuters, and many others who
rely on buses.
We have heard since that September presentation that the State and the Providence
city government have been working, together with a real estate owner who’s
known for suing RIPTA, to develop further plans for Kennedy Plaza. But from
last August until now, bus riders and the organizations that advocate for
groups who use transit have not been briefed on these developments. We are
apprehensive, knowing the history of failed changes to Kennedy Plaza that have
degraded RI’s public transit system. RIPTA’s own advisory committee
representing disabled people—ATAC--has also been troubled by these plans to
move service out of Kennedy Plaza. We believe that transit money must be used
responsibly in ways that actually do improve transit. Neither the bond money
that was authorized by RI voters in 2014 to improve transit,nor additional borrowing
that’s unauthorized by voters, should be used to finance changes that impair
RI’s mass transit system.
So we ask you to open up the process. We are glad that you talked about
improving mass transit in your State of the State Address. A strengthened mass-transit
system can improve RI’s economy, while contributing to the mobility of many
Rhode Island residents who cannot or choose not to drive. Mass transit is one
of the most efficient ways we have to fight climate change, and strengthening
it would help the climate more quickly than any other measures at our disposal.
But none of this can work effectively unless groups representing transit users
are fully in the loop as the plans are developed and bus riders themselves are
allowed to be heard in public hearings.
Patricia Raub, Coordinator of RI Transit Riders
Climate Action Rhode Island (350 RI)
DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality)
Homeless Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE)
The Oasis Wellness & Recovery Centers of RI
Mental Health Recovery Coalition of RI (MHRC-RI)
National Alliance on Mental Illness - Rhode Island
Providence Student Union
RI Bicycle Coalition
RI Homeless Advocacy Project
Sunrise Movement Brown & RISD
cc: Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, RIPTA CEO Scott