WORKING TO IMPROVE KENNEDY PLAZA
Kennedy Plaza is the focal point for RIPTA’s statewide services. If you ride RIPTA you have undoubtedly spent some time in the Plaza. It is served by most of RIPTA’s 55 bus routes, is located in the heart of downtown Providence, and offers customer information, ticketing and an indoor waiting area. Ridership growth in recent years presents RIPTA with increasing challenges to the delivery of efficient, and attractive service at this location. Since the Kennedy Plaza was last rebuilt in 2001, the number of passengers using this space has grown significantly. The outer berths are narrow and don’t easily accommodate those waiting for buses at peak times. High numbers of passengers boarding mean buses are in the Plaza for longer periods and can fall behind schedule. Last Spring, RIPTA conducted an online Customer Satisfaction Survey where many riders expressed their concerns about the Plaza, including safety issues.
For the last several years, RIPTA, the City of Providence, along with the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy and other partners have been working to improve both the transit experience at Kennedy Plaza and to make the Plaza and the adjoining Burnside Park a greater civic place. Progress has been made, and the City is leading efforts to make major changes this year. RIPTA is hopeful these changes will allow us to provide great service in a comfortable environment in a manner that allows the surrounding area to reach its full potential.
Improvements recommended as part of RIPTA’s Comprehensive Operations Analysis (COA) will allow us to reduce the overall number of bus berths needed in the Plaza, not by reducing service, but by improving scheduling efficiencies. Full implementation of COA improvements is anticipated to attract new riders and increase, not decrease, the number of passengers using public transit, making these overall efforts to improve the Greater Kennedy Plaza even more timely as we aim to increase ridership.
RIPTA’s role in the reconfiguration of Kennedy Plaza includes efforts to upgrade passenger amenities and ensure effective and safe pedestrian access and circulation. RIPTA is working with a consultant to identify the location and design of necessary and desired passenger amenities, including new shelters and signage, and to make sure that all transit elements fit together as part of a cohesive package. Development of the design of passenger amenities include consideration of shelters, seating and lighting. The new Plaza design will also include real time information at all bus stops and the introduction of several Ticket Vending Machines in the Plaza to reduce bus boarding times by providing more opportunities to pre-pay your fare.
Click here for a copy of the RIPTA Board Meeting presentation on Kennedy Plaza and the study to improve future downtown transit service.
Stay tuned for more updates on how we are working to improve the Plaza, more details will be coming soon.