Grow Smart RI: State officials adopt RI's first-ever comprehensive vision and long-range plan for transit

Grow Smart RI first pitched the concept to the Raimondo Administration 5 years ago

Contact: John Flaherty, Deputy Director,; 401-309-8707 (m)

December 11, 2020, Providence, RI - The State Planning Council yesterday adopted Rhode Island's first-ever comprehensive statewide vision and long-range master plan for the future of transit in the state.

Called Transit Forward RI 2040, the plan outlines a vision and blueprint to enhance and expand Rhode Island's statewide transit system, help revitalize its cities and towns, provide greater access to economic opportunity, reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector and support transit-oriented housing and commercial development along key transit corridors.

"This is a significant smart growth milestone for Rhode Island" said Grow Smart RI Executive Director Scott Wolf, adding "this bold plan should play an important part in ensuring that Rhode Island emerges from the pandemic as a more vibrant, sustainable, equitable and opportunity-rich state for all our residents".

With a professional and publicly vetted blueprint for better transit, Rhode Island is now well positioned to compete for discretionary federal grants and infrastructure-stimulus investment widely expected to surface in the new year. Implementing the full plan would cost between $1.9 - $3.1B over a multi-year period, depending upon the options selected.

According to Grow Smart RI, 77% of Rhode Island's population lives within a 10-minute walk of a transit stop, yet the U.S. Census shows that less than 3% of our residents use transit as a means for getting to work. Making the transit system more user-friendly, convenient and faster will benefit all Rhode Islanders, including commuters and those seeking efficient ways to access a variety of services and amenities. And with the transportation sector accounting for the single-largest and fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the Northeast, increased use of transit could play a significant role in fending off the worst impacts of climate change.

Grow Smart RI first pitched the concept of a transit vision and master plan following a forum it hosted in December, 2015 at which the Governor, Speaker of the House and Senate President each spoke. Beginning in FY2018, the Governor dedicated approximately $600,000 in state and federal resources to undertake the study. The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) hired a consultant and kicked off the planning with public listening sessions in December 2018, with the draft plan completed in August 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic did delay completion of the plan, but it now also accounts for how transit has been affected by the pandemic and includes consideration for future adjustments.

Notably, the controversial RIDOT-led Multi-Hub proposal for Downtown Providence was neither conceived nor vetted as part of the RIPTA-led transit master planning process. Advocates continue to call on the Governor to withdraw that proposal.

Courtesy of Grow Smart RI

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