Blackstone River Regional Rail

Following up on my proposal for improving regional and intercity rail service between Providence and Boston, let me propose a line from Providence to Woonsocket, acting as an initial line of a Providence S-Bahn. The basic ideas for how to run a small-scale regional railroad, as usual, come from Hans-Joachim Zierke’s site, but are modified to suit the needs of a line with a larger city at one end. It is fortunate that the road connecting the two cities is not a freeway, and takes 24 minutes, allowing good transit on the same market to be competitive.

RIPTA’s bus route 54 goes from Providence to Woonsocket, generally taking 53 minutes one-way, with a few express runs taking as little as 39; the frequency is about half-hourly both peak and off-peak. A regional line would effectively railstitute it. Lincoln Mall, which is on the bus route but not near the rail line, would be served by a branch bus with timed connections to the train. See map here, together with some proposed intermediate station locations. Depending on the stop pattern, additional buses could be replaced, most readily route 75.

To avoid degrading service, frequency must be at least half-hourly. Of course, complete fare and schedule integration with the buses is non-negotiable: the fare on the train should be the same as on the buses it’s to replace, and transfers should not cost extra money.

As in the case of Zierke’s proposal for regional rail in southern Oregon, this is impossible under FRA regulations. Unlike the case of MBTA-HSR compatibility, getting a waiver here is difficult, since RIPTA is a small agency and can’t afford to conduct the studies required for a waiver request. In addition, north of Pawtucket, the line is an active freight line owned by the Providence and Worcester Railroad, and passenger service with high platforms (low-floor equipment is ruled out by the high platforms at Providence) may well require a new passenger-dedicated single track, raising capital costs by tens of millions of dollars.

Nonetheless, in a regulatory environment more favorable to passenger rail, such a line can succeed. Travel time of about 25 minutes, comparable to driving, is realistic. The length of the line is 25.5 km, and could still support a minimum speed of about 90 km/h even in its curvier northern half. The technical travel time is about 15 minutes plus 1 minute per stop. To ensure one-way travel time remains well under 30 minutes, enabling two trains to provide half-hourly service, there’s a maximum of about 9 stops. The map above includes 7 stops I believe are necessary for the line’s success, and a few optional locations. The explicit assumption for the following schedule is 90 km/h speed north of Lincoln Junction and 120 km/h south of it. Together with 7% padding, we obtain:

Woonsocket 0:00
East Woonsocket 0:02
Manville-Cumberland Hill 0:06
Albion 0:09
Lincoln Junction 0:12
Valley Falls 0:16
Pawtucket-Central Falls 0:19
Mineral Spring 0:21
Providence Place Plaza Shopping Center 0:24
Providence 0:26

Trains meet south of Lincoln Junction, requiring at a minimum two tracks at and south of the station. If trains leave both ends simultaneously, then they stop at Lincoln Junction within 2 minutes of each other, making timing the connecting bus easier.

This meshes with the sped-up trains to Boston well. Travel time from the junction with the NEC in Pawtucket is 7:30 minutes, versus 3 minutes on a 200 km/h intercity trains. Under the one-overtake option, intercity trains arrive in Providence 3 minutes after regional trains from Boston, giving the DMUs an ample window to make local stops (8 minutes with a 2-minute headway and 15-minute Boston service), even with the flat junctions at the split in Pawtucket and at Providence Station. Under the two-overtake option, Boston regional trains arrive about 5 minutes after intercity trains assuming no additional stops in the Providence area; adding the same three stops made by Woonsocket trains to the Boston trains would turn this into 9 minutes, and the DMUs would have a window between the intercity and regional trains, combining to provide intense local frequency between Providence and Pawtucket.

In other words, capacity constraints at Providence do not exist under this service pattern, answering concerns raised in comments on a post Greater City: Providence. The post itself has important ideas for pleasant development near Providence Station, which is currently urban renewal hell. The only drawback of railstitution is that Kennedy Plaza is closer to the jobs of downtown Providence than the train station, and even with the trip time cut from 53 minutes to 26, it’s essential to provide easy pedestrian access from the station to nearby city destinations.

Modern DMUs have fuel consumption similar to that of buses and are maintained in the same shops, so with higher speed RIPTA can expect similar or lower operating costs and higher ridership. If a passenger-dedicated track is not required, then 9 high platforms, a passing siding, and 4 DMUs should suffice; capital costs would be very low, especially relative to ridership, and may well receive federal support. Based on Zierke’s German examples, daily ridership in the low to middle thousands would be good but realistic; 10,000 would be a miracle and 2,000 a bust.

(With thanks to Jef Nickerson for the idea.)


  1. Danny

    I’m curious about how you feel about pricing for regional rail in a situation like the one you propose.

    The reason I ask is that it is generally accepted that people don’t factor the true cost of travel into their decision to make short trips, but rather just the direct costs (aka gasoline).

    Most regional rail that I have seen competes very well on a true cost basis, but rarely on a direct cost basis, which to me shows that the shorter the trip, the lower the price needs to be to compete well. Do you think that the correct pricing strategy is to compete with the true cost of the automobile, or with the “psychological” cost?

  2. ant6n

    It seems that your station spacing is almost lower in Providence itself then outside of it – that is unusual for S-Bahn services, and much more common for commuter rail.

    Anyway, this idea also fits with the 3tph(HSR) + 3tph(Boston-Providence) + 3tph(local to Stoughton), with overtake at Providence itself (assuming of course, a slightly slower HSR speeds). If the Boston-Providence train makes the same stops in Providence as your proposed Backstone River line, then running that line at 3tph could result in 6tph within Providence itself. Note that both lines could be extended beyond the main station until the HSR catches up with the Backstone River train. This would result in a Providence ‘S-Bahn’ running every 10 minutes, with one line branching to Boston, and another branching to Woonsocket. On the South side, the Boston-Providence train could be extended further, for 3tph operation to Warwick.

    • Alon Levy

      The reason the stop spacing is wide in Providence is that there isn’t all that much next to the line, other than in the Providence Place area. Trains could in principle stop at Smithfield Avenue, Branch Avenue, and Orms Street, but the first two are industrial and not near much else and the last is mainly (but not just) near the State House, which is already served by the main station. Instead, the densest stop spacing is in Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Valley Falls, immediately north of Providence, where there’s more development near the line. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love for there to be an S-Bahn line providing very frequent local service from Providence to Pawtucket, which would railstitute another bus line, but the existing ROW is meh for that.

      Of course, you’re right about the possibilities of extending service to Warwick. The Boston-Providence train, overtaken in Providence under either the 3+3 option or under the one-overtake 4+4 option, could easily make additional stops to Warwick.

      • ant6n

        On a side note, it seems that between Boston South Station and Boston Readville there are four tracks, i.e. 2 pairs of tracks along two branches. If that station was rebuilt with some fly-overs to be able to arbitrarily route trains, one could probably even run 4tph HSR without any overtakes between Boston and Providence – or increase the speed difference between HSR and mbta. While flyovers are pretty expensive, the station could probably be completely rearranged for cheaper than 400$M, while potentially providing more schedule flexibility and capacity for regional rail.

        Extra bonus for cross plattform interchange of mbta trains.

        • Alon Levy

          There are 3 tracks north of Readville, not 4. There’s a track map on the NEC Master Plan, but I’ve taken that line a few times and can confirm that it’s just 3 tracks and that in a few places the tracks brush off against people’s backyards, making widening politically difficult. If you’re looking at satellite photos, then you should bear in mind there are two extra tracks between Back Bay and Forest Hills for the Orange Line.

          • ant6n

            I mean there are two branches going from Readville to South Station – the NEC and the Fairmount line. If there are actually 3 tracks on the NEC, that would mean a total of 5 tracks.

            It seems that the Fairmount line will have a bunch of more stations in the near future, but even so it should be possible route some faster more regional trains on it.

          • Alon Levy

            Well, sure, it’s possible. Under 3+3, it’s easy, and the main benefit would be to let regional trains make an extra stop or two near Providence, while the drawback would be to worsen service to Back Bay. Under 4+4, it’s possible for express regional trains to go between Fairmount locals and then be overtaken by intercity trains just once, at Attleboro, but both are extremely tight, and the latter requires 200 km/h trains.

            On the other hand, on second thought, options involving Attleboro overtakes don’t mesh very well with Woonsocket trains, especially if both regional services turn at Providence. This is what I get for not writing explicit schedules. The issue is that the Woonsocket schedule is tight and requires a 4-minute turnaround at Providence, so if the train immediately follows or precedes an MBTA train, it forces the MBTA train to have a longer turnaround time; the alternative is giving up schedule symmetry, and this can’t be done if the schedule is tight. It’s not a problem if there’s 3+3 with no overtake or 4+4 with a Sharon overtake because then Woonsocket trains have a very large window to use the shared segment. If there’s just one overtake in Attleboro then MBTA trains could still go on to Warwick, or alternatively make stops in Pawtucket and Providence but have irregular gaps in service (sometimes 2 minutes, sometimes 15), and continue to Warwick with a travel time of 1:10 or 1:25 rather than 0:55. We get the following schedule:

            (pass Attleboro at :00)
            (merge with the P&W at :03)
            Providence :06

            Attleboro :01
            South Attleboro :05
            (merge with the P&W at :06)
            [The same 3 intermediate stops as Woonsocket trains]
            Providence :13

            Woonsocket trains would be timetabled to arrive in Providence at :15. For off-peak service, the MBTA frequency would be cut to 2 tph by removing the trains that arrive near the Woonsocket trains. Then the Providence arrival times of regional trains would be :28 and :58 from Boston and :15 and :45 from Woonsocket, creating something very close to 15-minute service from Pawtucket to Providence. I’d say this is the optimal solution for off-peak service. For peak service, your 3+3 idea is much better from the perspective of Pawtucket-Providence service; the issue then is that there’s no easy way to cut trains to turn it into a good off-peak schedule. Cutting from 3 to 2 is possible, but awkward; cutting to 1 is unacceptable for good service.

          • ant6n

            Well, 3tph rush hour, 2tph off-peak schedules are awkward – but it could be worse. There’s multiple ways to resolve this:

            – just do 3tph rush, 2tph else operation. This might be awkward for passengers and possibly inefficient (for example you may need 5 trains during rush, but 4 during other times)
            – just always run 3tph, but use shorter train sets during the off-peak. Running at at a 20min clockface schedule even during off-peak is pretty close to rapid transit. It’s the base frequency of the whole S-Bahn system in Berlin.
            – make a 2tph schedule, but leave some slots for rush hour additions which are not necessarily spaced evenly. You can have 10/20 or 12/18 rythms. The rush hour extras don’t even need the same station stopping pattern or running time.

  3. Nikko P

    Two things:

    1) Do you think the benefits of replacing the bus with an S-bahn line that serves 10,000 with 30min endpoint-endpoint time will justify the cost of implementing it?
    2) The layout you propose doesn’t serve the the Pawtucket CBD very well — both nearby stops are all far removed from the Pawtucket Transit Center. Couldn’t you better server the Pawtucket CBD and connecting bus services by using a stop at Dexter Street? It looks like there is also an existing station between Barton and Clay Street that is reportedly being considered for reopening by the MBTA.

    • Alon Levy

      1. Yes. Regional rail isn’t expensive to build per kilometer. For an option that includes a second track, I’d consider $40 million a reasonable cost, including 4 DMUs (or 2 longer DMUs, such as GTWs). The problem is that this line won’t get 10,000 riders a day.

      2. I considered Dexter Street, yes. It may be better than the historic station – I don’t know Pawtucket well enough to say. It could also obviate the need for Mineral Spring, allowing an additional station in Providence. The intended Pawtucket-Central Falls station was the historic one; I accidentally placed it a few blocks to the north, but now updated the map. Thanks for the correction.

  4. anonymouse

    This is a reasonably good idea on the whole, just a couple things worth noting: there’s enough space for four tracks all the way from Providence to the junction at Pawtucket and in fact there is a third track for most of the way, and I think the line to Woonsocket had two tracks at some point in the past. So there should be room for the service even if the NEC gets congested. Also, I don’t think adopting the same fare as the bus is a good idea: it costs the same to go from Kennedy Plaza to Woonsocket or Newport as it does to College Hill. This is a longer distance and faster service, and should logically cost a bit (but not a lot) more. It should, however, still be integrated into the same fare system and offer reasonable transfers to the extent that that’s possible. Finally, it might even make sense to buy more trains and extend a few trips to Worcester, though that’s a whole other level of political and logistical difficulty.

    • Alon Levy

      Well, a distance-based fare is fine, as long as it applies equally to all modes. If RIPTA chooses to charge more money from bus riders who live far from Providence, it’s fine with me.

      The ROW to Woonsocket is double-tracked, but one track was converted to a bike path part of the way. Most of the infrastructure can still be duplicated easily, but in Woonsocket, the river crossing and the elevated structures look single-track to me; I’m not completely sure – they’re wider than one track, and could be a former two-track structure with the track put in the center – but they look much narrower than two tracks.

      Going further to Worcester is possible, but that’s really intercity service, and the costs are higher because of the longer route and the benefits lower because of the smaller commute market. Also, as you mention, it’s politically difficult to do this right. Keeping everything under RIPTA control gives you a Verkehrsverbund without much effort, modulo Boston service.

  5. JD12

    Does anyone know what the current route 54 weekday ridership is or (perhaps more importantly) what percentage of ridership board or disembark at Lincoln Mall? Estimates of 10,000 riders for this rail service seem wildly optimistic for a transit system which was hauling 68,000 weekday riders at last count (2009 National Transit Database).

    If I had $40 million in capital dollars to spend on RIPTA, I would certainly want to look at the potential to implement BRT-type improvements that could benefit a far greater number of the system’s riders.

    • anonymouse

      I’m not sure how useful that would be, though. Providence is an incredibly compact city, and beyond that is suburban hell where bus service on local streets would be too slow (compared to the Interstate) and bus service on the Interstate would be inefficient in hitting enough destinations to get good ridership. I can see some improvements to bus circulation in Downtown Providence being useful, and route 11/99 is the one busy bus route that could use some improvements. A rail line from Woonsocket to Wickford Junction or Kingston does a good job of hitting most of the major population centers and would offer a higher speed complement to the local bus services.

  6. Rob Durchola

    I cannot comment on the value of rail service between Woonsocket and Providence. However, I do get concerned when someone proposes to substitute rail service for local bus service, as they often serve vastly different markets.

    I know practically nothing about public transit in Rhode Island; but I did look up Route 54 on the RIPTA site and considered both its schedule and routing in making the following comments.

    1. The bus route does not really parallel the rail line. It is over 3 miles west of the rail line at its greatest separation. This alone would suggest the need for extensive shuttle service to get existing bus patrons to and from the rail line, negating any cost savings from substituting rail for bus. This issue is made worse by the fact that for much of its length, the rail line is east of the Blackstone River while the bus service is west of the river. For locations not directly accessible by a river crossing, the travel distance from existing bus stops to proposed rail stops could be much more than 3 miles. (Google maps show the local service is truly local, with stops situated all along the route.)

    2. The bus schedule strongly suggests that much of the ridership is not to or from downtown Providence. Without seeing ridership data (on and off locations by passenger) one cannot determine the utility of a rail service (even with bus shuttles) for the ridership of the Route 54 bus. [Indeed, if I had to guess, I would think ridership on the bus is heavier outbound from Providence on weekday mornings than inbound to Providence. That is, the bus likely carries residents of the Providence area (many of whom might walk to a bus stop) to suburban job opportunities more than carrying suburbanites to jobs in Providence. Since the jobs are most likely scattered along the bus route, (with a concentration near Lincoln Mall), a single shuttle route from one rail station might not suffice. And, if this guess is correct, there would be little or no time savings (or worse) for these reverse commuters if they were forced to use a rail/shuttle bus system.]

    And a side note: The road connecting the two cities may not be a 65 mph freeway; but Route 99 to Route 146 provides a limited access highway with two lanes in each direction. If you are not traveling between the downtown areas of both Woonsocket and Providence or if your trip times do not match the train schedules well, driving would appear to be the faster (if not always better) option.

    • anonymouse

      The few times I’ve ridding the 54 bus, I was going from Kennedy plaza to nearby areas of Providence, but it certainly seems like it’s doing double duty as both a fairly popular local bus line along Charles Street in Providence and an interurban line to Woonsocket. A rail line would perform the latter function, and also provide a connection to Pawtucket and probably onward to Cranston, Warwick, and the Airport.

    • Alon Levy

      I don’t know for a fact what the bus’s travel concentration is, either, but in general, more people live in Cumberland, Lincoln, or Woonsocket and work in Providence than the reverse (see data here). It’s close to even for Lincoln and Woonsocket, but is a factor-of-3 difference for Cumberland. More specifically about the route:

      1. The short stop spacing is a general feature of American buses, and can’t by itself teach us anything about distribution of jobs or residents.

      2. However, several rush hour trips run express from Lincoln Mall to Kennedy Plaza – mainly Providence-bound in the a.m. peak, but not just. Furthermore, those trips skip local stops north of downtown Providence, which means they’re oriented toward Providence-bound commuters, rather than commuters from all over heading toward Lincoln Mall.

      3. The dispersed jobs on Routes 116 and 123 are only served by a few runs a day, on the shoulders of rush hour, and some are flag stops. (And a few, on the eastern end of 116, are closer to the railroad anyway.)

      4. Twin River, the casino next to the route, is skipped by many runs, and is served mainly in midday, with gaps in and right next to the traditional rush hour (which probably isn’t relevant to a casino) and in the evening (which is). Several runs a day even skip Lincoln Mall. In contrast, Woonsocket itself is served by nearly all buses: only two southbound daily buses and one northbound bus short-turn.

      In other words, the bus is probably primarily a Woonsocket-Providence bus, and secondarily a Lincoln Mall-Providence bus and a local along Charles Street. The jobs on the way are ill-served. The residents are even more ill-served: north of Mineral Spring, there’s more residential development next to the railroad than next to Routes 246 and 146.

  7. Rob Durchola

    @Alon – I don’t have any real issues with what you said; but there are a few points to make about your comments in the way of clarification.

    You note the relative number of in-out commuters and make a special note of Cumberland. Cumberland is not on the bus route. It is on the rail line. There may indeed be a market for a Woonsocket-Cumberland-Pawtucket-Providence route; but that routing will not serve many of the users of Route #54.

    I agree that the short stop spacing tells us little about which stops are active. We would both need to see ridership data to draw more accurate conclusions. The short stop spacing did allow me to follow the route clearly on Google Maps and that is how I became concerned about its distance from the rail line and the difficulty that rail shuttles might have in serving the needs of current bus patrons.

    Just as there are inbound AM express trips from Lincoln Mall to Providence, there are outbound AM express trips to the industrial parks/office complexes in Lincoln. As I said in my first post, I don’t know much about Rhode Island; but I do know that in many metro areas less affluent urban residents tend to rely more on bus service for job commutes than more affluent suburban residents, unless parking availability/costs (think Manhattan) are a limiting factor. This leads to higher reverse commute bus usage in the AM peak than inbound bus usage.

    Again, I don’t know the area; but the jobs in Lincoln that are closer to the railroad have to be within walking distance of the railroad to make the railroad really useful. My experience with suburban office parks is that employers come and go and they upsize and downsize. Bus service to these office parks (both direct from an urban core and shuttle from rail) needs to be carefully monitored and adjusted based on increasing and decreasing demand and shifts in work hours that employers seem to like to do periodically. Put another way, suburban office parks are very high maintenance sites to serve with transit.

    Your discussion of Twin River is valid. There appears to be a need to get workers to the casino at a variety of times. There is midday express service to the casino daily from both Woonsocket and Providence at what might very well be shift change times.

    Finally, the fact that almost all trips go to Woonsocket is probably driven by many factors, including the bus service needs of Woonsocket itself (residents and employees), the traffic between the two cities, and even the cycle time for the bus. I’ve worked with many similar bus routes (local service for a similar distance with a large city at one end and a smaller city at the other) and there is relatively little through ridership except during peak periods. The rest of the day and on weekends, ridership is a constant stream of boardings and disembarkings. However, there are always exceptions. This market may be one of them.

    • Alon Levy

      There aren’t all that many reverse-peak express trips to the industrial parks – just four per day, and those are really on the shoulders of the peak rather than at the peak.

      Less affluent residents are always going to use transit more than more affluent ones, regardless of where they’re going. Just as most people who work in Midtown Manhattan are not rich, so are most people working in downtown Providence working- or middle-class. (In New York, it’s the reverse commuters who tend to be rich: in the universe of people working in Greenwich and Stamford, transit users have higher incomes than drivers.) Working-class Woonsocket sends out commuters to both Lincoln and Providence, but it sends considerably more to Providence. Although high-income workers are disproportionately concentrated downtown, there are still way more low-income workers downtown than at other concentrations of employment: think for example about retail workers at Providence Place, which is larger than any of Rhode Island’s suburban malls.

  8. Jef Nickerson

    At Greater City: Providence we discussed a Woonsocket to Quonset DMU line a while ago. There is planning in the Blackstone Valley and in the cities of Pawtucket and Woonsocket for restarting service up there, and someday to Worcester. The planning is very much preliminary, but it is part of RIDOT’s long term vision.

    The city of Woonsocket is also keen on the idea of extending the Forge Park MBTA line into Woonsocket. Apparently the ROW is intact.

    I think the question of who and what Route 54 is serving is something which needs to be looked at ahead of such service. In Providence itself, there are currently as many as 6 bus lines serving Charles Street with Route 54. Route 54 is not on its own until north of Mineral Spring in North Providence (where it also meets a Mineral Spring bus that heads into Pawtucket). It works by itself as local service in less dense areas of Lincoln serving CCRI, Twin River, and finally Lincoln Mall. At the mall it meets the 75 which runs into Pawtucket also.

    North of Lincoln Mall, it gets on Route 146 which is limited access and runs into Woonsocket where it does work as a local city bus.

    What local serives are replaced with when a train line is installed is an important question, we could end up better serving people in those areas where the 54 works as a local service by getting those people to train stations with shuttles which will move them faster into Providence.

    There is also great potential for TOD in Woonsocket if that city is better connected to Providence by a fast train rather than a bus which often is too circuitous on local streets, or stuck in traffic when it acts as an express on Route 146.

    • Alon Levy

      Sorry it took this long to notice your comment. I hate my spamfilter.

      I hadn’t thought too much about the southern end of the route. I’d have thought West Warwick along the abandoned rail line would be best, but a longer-range train to Quonset could also work. Though, if you’re planning on 15-minute service for a line this long, it pretty much has to be double-tracked, or else too many timed meets would be required (one every 7.5 minutes). It’d be better to not use the freight track on the NEC and instead use the passenger tracks, with a timed overtake somewhere between Providence and Quonset; fewer overtakes than meets are required – about one every 22 minutes if the faster train is on average twice as fast as the slower train.

      • Jef Nickerson

        I think the jobs base at Quonset is a better target for a southern end of a Rhode Island commuter rail line, then West Warwick. Although West Warwick has a history of density and mill based employment. In a Sim City world I could see re-densifying West Warwick.

        Also, there is currently a Vineyard Ferry operating out of Quonset and with a better transit connection, more ferry services could operate out of there. I was daydreaming about just such a transit connection as I was picking someone up at T.F. Green earlier this year and fixing to drive to Woods Hole to go to the Vineyard. If only we could have walked across the Interlink, hopped a train to the ferry, and on to the island.

        Another thought on the 54 bus, I think most of the service at Lincoln Mall is Park n Ride. There are *some* jobs and *some* shoppers there, but the Lincoln Mall itself is more or less a dead mall, the auto-oriented sprawl around it has all but killed it.

        The Park n Ride passengers, as they are arriving by car, are easily movable to another location, such as a Park n Ride station where the Blackstone tracks cross Route 295.

        Again, in a Sim City world it would be great to abandon all that sprawl around the Lincoln Mall and redistribute the retail and jobs back into Woonsocket in an urban form.

    • Jeffrey

      I would like to see the Woonsocket-Quonset Point Line be one of my suggested electrified RIDOT-RIPTA-P&W Rhode Island Railway Trans-Metro Commuter Rail Lines & use Quonset Point as a maintenance facility for the RIRwy.

  9. Pingback: News & Notes — Greater City: Providence
    • Alon Levy

      Thanks for the link – it’s an interesting study. Relative to what usually happens with FRA-compliant commuter service, it’s a decent plan (and now I have to go back and check my schedules to see if there’s a decent diagonal transfer at Pawtucket under any of the previously mooted service patterns). I especially like first the presence of usable midday service, and second the attempts to reduce the number of meets with a schedule that, due to the overriding need to meet the MBTA timetable, is necessarily non-symmetric.

  10. truthspew

    Hopefully someone with half a political brain will see this post and really start plugging this concept. I had to laugh when RIPTA officials said that the distances in RI were too short for light rail. Um, Providence to Warwick anyone? Or to Woonsocket?

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  12. Pingback: Providence: Busy Versus Frequent Buses | Pedestrian Observations
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  14. Philip

    I know this was posted a couple years ago but still wanted to comment.
    The traffic on route 146 in North Smithfield can be awefull with the traffic light and it is a very busy artery.
    Route 99 is great, to a point, all “expressways” don’t go into Woonsocket and the local driving can be quite slow going on the local roads and when it is busy anywhere in that area it takes time to get anywhere.
    The 54 bus serves many functions since it goes between two cities, serves a mall, casino, community college, sometimes Amica insurance, not to mention those commuting, going to appointments, connecting to other busses, etc.
    The rail line going into Providence is great but let us not forget the line that goes down the east side of Pawtucket down George Bennett Hwy. and through East Providence before crossing the Seekonk river at the Crook Point Bascule Bridge and into Providence via the East Side Railroad Tunnel.
    Now a couple problems with the last part are the facts of the bridge is not in use and the final connection from the tunnel to the train station in Providence would be an issue to resolve.
    The state might end up doing BRT instead only because to the cost savings.

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