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RIPTA’s R-Line: First Rapid Bus in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island ­Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), Providence, recently instituted service on its first rapid bus line. The R-Line replaces the two regular fixed routes with the highest ridership in the state and provides about 11,000 passenger trips each weekday—about 20 percent of overall RIPTA ridership.

Opening-day ridership was 3,346, 8.6 percent above the same routes the week before. RIPTA uses the term “rapid bus” instead of BRT for the ­service because, while it has many BRT features, it does not operate in a dedicated right-of-way.

“RIPTA’s R-Line is a great new service that will allow RIPTA to operate more efficiently and will provide a better level of service for our passengers,” said Chief Executive Officer Raymond Studley. “This service will improve the transit experience for nearly 11,000 passengers per day with public art, improved waiting areas, new wayfinding at every stop, improved hours of service, and faster trip times due to transit signal prioritization. A true collaboration between RIPTA and the city of Providence, the R-Line is a culmination of years of planning and research to create a customer-oriented transit experience.”

In attendance at the opening cere­monies were Rhode Island Gov. ­Lincoln Chafee, Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and ­Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and David Cicilline (D-RI), Studley, and other public transit and community leaders.

The seven-mile R-Line corridor connects Pawtucket and South Providence with downtown Providence, with service every 10 minutes during the day and every 20 minutes at night. It operates with Rhode Island’s first traffic signal priority system and 56 bus stops, spaced one-quarter mile apart.

RIPTA partnered with the city of Providence to implement bus stop, streetscape, and public art enhancements along the R-Line corridor. The city worked with neighborhood stakeholders and cultural organizations to develop artistic themes that echo the identity and cultural heritage of the two major streets served by the line: North Main Street, “Living with History,” and Broad Street, “Experiencing World Cultures.”

FTA, the cities of Providence and Pawtucket, and RIPTA provided the $4.2 million capital cost of the project. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, provided planning funds through a Transportation Corridors to Livable Communities Grant.


RIPTA Board Chairman Scott Avedisian, also mayor of Warwick, RI, speaks at launch ceremonies for the agency's R-Line rapid bus service. 

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