Despite a lack of support and robust engagement from actual bus riders, officials are continuing their efforts to move forward with a plan to construct a new main hub for Rhode Island's bus system at their proposed site on Dorrance Street. This plan has not been proven to be reliable and would come at an enormous cost to Rhode Islanders.
Before bids have even begun to construct this proposed Dorrance hub, the expected costs have already ballooned, almost tripling to $200 million or more. Meanwhile the terms and conditions for this so-called Public-Private Partnership remain unknown. According to a RIPTA Finance Subcommittee document the winning bidder will get to charge RIPTA perhaps around $20 million per year in rent. This cost is hard to afford in the best of times, and given RIPTA's financial challenges this unjustified cost will make their fiscal position much worse.
As it still hasn’t been proven that moving the bus hub from its current location to this site on Dorrance Street is better for riders as well as cost effective, there's no need for such huge costs imposed on Rhode Islanders. Our existing bus hub in Kennedy Plaza is rent-free, gets riders to where they want to go, and is riders’ preferred location according to the robust engagement conducted by members of our coalition.
Large numbers of Rhode Islanders rely on RIPTA service every day. Riders want RIPTA’s recent service problems fixed, to have high quality, reliable service available at all times, rather than pouring millions upon millions into a hugely expensive new main hub they didn't ask for and apparently do not want. Although our coalition cannot rule out that the proposed Dorrance Street bus hub project could be beneficial to riders, we are not convinced that it’s a viable option given the unanswered questions and lack of information about what has been done to ensure that it is as good as the existing main bus hub at Kennedy Plaza.
Our coalition is disappointed that officials announced unrealistic claims that the Dorrance Street bus hub had broad-based public support, especially given the high costs. In fact, the project’s thrust is currently out of touch with what the riders who use RIPTA need for reliable public transit.
Our state's bus system has suffered too much neglect and low morale among its riders and employees. We know there are private interests determined to profit from this proposed new hub, but pushing the hub out of Kennedy Plaza under these conditions leaves Rhode Island bus riders in limbo with dicey prospects. This plan is costly and uncertain and we do not believe that the impacts on riders and the state have been adequately considered.
To prevent any more delays on focusing what’s really important in this situation and to avoid wasting our tax dollars, RIPTA and public officials must put the best interests of our bus riders first and apply our state’s resources to improving public transit. Why not keep our main hub in the location that our riders have repeatedly said is best for them, Kennedy Plaza? This proposed Dorrance hub must be postponed until we can resolve the issues of providing high quality services to riders that are the foundation of public transit, and it should not be built without proof that the proposed Dorrance Street bus hub is better for riders than their preferred, current bus hub at Kennedy Plaza!
Gather Together United As 1 & Homeless Advisory Committee
George Wiley Center
Party for Socialism and Liberation
People’s Port Authority
RI Organizing Project
Media Contact: Randall Rose, (401) 419-6199, firstname.lastname@example.org