WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), today announced $8,040,000 in federal funding for the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) to build new mobility hubs at the University of Rhode Island (URI) in South Kingstown and the Community College of Rhode Island's (CCRI) Knight Campus. The federal investment, which includes funding for additional buses, will enable RIPTA to better serve the two higher education campuses while improving overall bus service to the southern portion of the state.
The federal funds, which are administered by the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) through the Buses and Bus Facilities grant program, will help make capital improvements to establish new mobility hubs at URI and CCRI and purchase four new buses. These two locations will serve as operational hubs for RIPTA service in the southern portion of the state and will allow for a significant redesign of bus service to better serve RIPTA passengers and communities south of Providence with increased connections and frequency of service.
Currently, URI and CCRI serve nearly 35,000 students a year and generate nearly 1 million RIPTA trips, roughly 6 percent of RIPTA’s annual ridership.
The new bus hubs and fleet acquisitions will help meet the growing need for more transit service at CCRI and URI. In addition to addressing parking and congestion challenges, this investment will make these educational institutions more accessible, improve intermodal connections, and better align RIPTA service to meet ridership demand. RIPTA’s current hub at Warwick Mall is the transit authority’s sole gateway to the southern portion of the state and many of those passengers are students at CCRI. Creating a new hub at the campus will better serve those students and provide better connections to other destinations. Major destinations that will benefit from the new hubs and improved transit connectivity in the southern part of the state include: T.F. Green Airport, the MBTA commuter rail station at Wickford Junction in North Kingstown, South County Commons, the Amtrak train station in Kingston, and ferry connections at Galilee in the town of Narragansett.
The federal Buses and Bus Facilities grant requires an 80/20 match, which means the federal government will pay for up to 80 percent of the cost. The project is estimated to cost $10.8 million.
“This is good news for URI, CCRI, and everyone who uses RIPTA. This federal investment will help RIPTA build new facilities and provide reliable service to and from URI and CCRI. It will literally make higher education opportunities more accessible for Rhode Islanders,” said Senator Reed, who led efforts to make available $423.3 million in Fiscal Year 2019 competitive grant funding for mass transit bus projects nationwide, including an additional $350 million for FTA’s bus and bus facility program. “This federal funding will jumpstart construction of new bus hubs and fleet acquisitions to help meet the growing demand for service at URI, CCRI, and nearby communities. I commend URI President David Dooley and CCRI President Meghan Hughes for working collaboratively with RIPTA to make these new hubs possible.”
“We want to thank Senator Reed for helping to secure the federal funding for these new hubs which will be vital to our system,” said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA’s Chief Executive Officer. “The creation of these two hubs will help improve access to education in our state and also create better transit access in these areas for the public in general. We also want to thank our partners at URI and CCRI who are making long-term commitments to public transportation and also benefitting their surrounding communities.”
Specifically, the federal funds will be used to help RIPTA and URI construct a mobility hub on the campus of URI near the Flagg Road parking lot that will allow for improved regional connectivity and access within and around the campus via bus, bike, car-sharing or foot. This hub will include the following elements:
- 5-8 bus berths
- Passenger facilities, including shelters, real-time display screens, and bicycle racks
- Building with interior waiting space, restrooms, and ticket vending machines
- Green infrastructure, including solar panels
In addition, RIPTA will make improvements to the CCRI Knight Campus in Warwick to allow for a mobility hub at that location. Work at the Warwick site includes:
- 2-4 bus berths
- Passenger facilities, including shelters and real-time display screens
RIPTA will also use a portion of the federal funds to procure up to four new buses to support increased operations in this region.