Providence City Council joins opposition to RIDOT bus hub plan

THE PROVIDENCE CITY COUNCIL on Thursday voted to approve a resolution stating its opposition to RIDOT's new bus hub plan. The Providence Multi-Hub Bus proposal calls for splitting the central bus hub across three sites. / COURTESY R.I. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

PROVIDENCE – The City Council has joined a growing number of opponents concerned over plans to divide up the R.I. Public Transit Authority bus hub at Kennedy Plaza.

The council on Thursday passed a resolution stating its opposition to the R.I. Department of Transportation’s Providence Multi-Hub Bus proposal. The plan, which has drawn increasing criticism since it was unveiled in July, would split up the main bus depot across three hubs, keeping about a quarter of the routes at Kennedy Plaza and adding destinations at the Providence Station and a new hub on Dyer Street at the edge of the Providence Innovation & Design District.

The approved resolution, sponsored by nine of the 14 council members and passed by a 10-0 vote with two abstentions, was put forward by the council’s Committee on Urban Development, Renewal and Planning following a public hearing in which dozens of local residents and representatives of Providence-based organizations spoke out against the plan.

The resolution cites “adverse impacts on ridership, connectivity and the overall user experience” and a lack of intent by RIDOT to “respond to the concerns raised by the local community” as reasons for its opposition. Specific concerns were raised in the prior public hearing, including the plan’s impact on current riders, who opponents say would need additional time, transfers and money for their travel under the proposal. Also at issue is what many say is a lack of transparency and public input on behalf of RIDOT prior to releasing its plan.

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The council’s opposition contradicts the support that Mayor Jorge O. Elorza previously expressed for the plan. In an email to Providence Business News, Elorza said the city is taking the lead in redeveloping Kennedy Plaza and is “in a position to ensure the needs of transit riders are met” regarding the rest of the plan. However, Elorza also said that while he supported most elements of the plan, he would like to see the Dyer Street Hub improved as it relates to the bus layout, pedestrian pathways and the impact on the nearby Providence Waterfront Park.

The Dyer Street hub is slated for a National Grid-owned site along the gateway to the I-195 Redevelopment District. As proposed, National Grid would retain ownership of the property and the buildings, entering into a long-term lease and operations agreement with RIDOT for transit-related improvements to accommodate a new bus hub, according to RIDOT Director Peter Alviti.

Nancy Lavin is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at Lavin@PBN.com

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