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RIPTA Riders Oppose KP Overhaul

The RIPTA Riders Association has passed along information about a press conference it will be having to oppose the current design of Kennedy Plaza.




5 PM, Tuesday, August 5th, the Ripta Riders Alliance is holding a press conference on the plaza between the RIPTA terminal building and City Hall.

The event will call attention to the problems the Kennedy Plaza redesign and construction is causing bus riders and other Plaza users.

Despite the hype from officials and private developers, RIPTA's $2.4 million redesign will make conditions worse for passengers! Permanent bus stops will be moved to less convenient locations, half of the bus lanes at Kennedy Plaza will be permanently relocated, congestion for buses and cars will increase, and the heated system that automatically melts snow in the Plaza's bus stops will be eliminated.

Officials ignored the rights of the public to have real input in the redesign of Kennedy Plaza.  After this year's construction, there will be worse changes later if we don't speak up now.  Please join us at this press conference so the voices and opinions of RIPTA patrons will be heard!!

Join us - at 5 PM, Tuesday, August 5th on Kennedy Plaza across from City Hall!!


(Me again)

I personally have mixed feelings about the KP Design. The initial plans to enliven the space looked like a mixed bag to me. I did like the sidewalk extensions, the idea of people sitting in a public square, the addition of trees, moveable chairs and tables, etc. The architecture critic at the Projo wrote a good piece talking about how this initial design by Union Studios was dropped (full disclosure, Union Studios helps work with us on Park(ing) Day, but my only in to the Union Studios drop was having read the Projo. I haven't heard anything directly.) 

I don't necessarily think it's the end of the world to put some buses on Exchange Terrace, although I do think the current set up during construction, where the buses are all over downtown, is onerous. 

However, I think in order for it to make sense to have the buses around the whole square, Washington Street at KP has to go car-free. Otherwise bus riders trying to cross are going to have to make a choice between being safe crossing traffic and being able to make their bus. We also, more than anything, need to consolidate a lot of our routes into simpler ones that are more frequent, so that transferring becomes a convenience to help us connect to all points, instead of being the chore that it is today.

I also worry that having so much money put into capital improvements for KP without thought into maintenance is a problem. We have basic things that are not taken care of at Kennedy Plaza that wouldn't cost much to fix, but which are not handled because of the fact that funding boosts tend to be structured towards capital needs rather than operational ones. For instance, the building closes early everyday. The bathroom is closed for at least two hours at lunch time for cleaning, but when you go to it post-cleaning, it's not clean. There are no soap dispensers in the men's room (can't speak for them women's room, but I imagine the same). The bubbler finally got cleaned after I asked and asked and tweeted embarrassing photos to RIPTA staff, but the mouthpiece is still stained, giving an uninviting image to those who want water. It's these little things that make using RIPTA either nice, or unpleasant. I don't see how we're going to fix these things this way.

Anyway, I would say I'm probably more supportive than not supportive of the RIPTA Riders' views, but I'd like to offer those caveats.



  1. I actually feel differently. Currently Kennedy Plaza is terribly intimidating for a pedestrian, with buses pulling in every which way and people waiting for buses overflowing the islands. It would make much more sense as a central plaza with bus bays around the outside. I agree that maintenance funding is important and better funding for RIPTA in general as well. I generally feel that for better transit service, we need more bus-only lanes, so making Washington Street at KP car-free is probably a good idea too. I don't know the system well enough to speak to consolidating routes, but more frequent service is paramount.

    I must say, it sounds from that press release that the RRA is just miffed that things are changing and they weren't part of the process (how many people are part of this "alliance" anyway?) The press release makes them seem like whiny jerks, and if they're whiny jerks, that could be a reason why they weren't included in the planning process. Not necessarily a good enough reason, but an understandable one.

  2. I mainly agree that it makes sense to remove the berths, which is why I'm not sure I can support the RIPTA Riders' Alliance's cause. I kind of feel like this is one case where going halfway is worse than leaving things the same, though. I also feel this way a little bit about the R-Line. Barry Schiller at the RIPTA Riders' Alliance is fairly opposed to the lengthening of the R-Line stops, which I disagree with because I think having farther stops will make a more efficient bus (the short length of some RIPTA stops is maddening to me and almost makes me afraid to pull the cord lest the bus stop right where I am). But I sort of agree that lengthening the stops is a very lousy measure on its own, because the R-Line has had no real improvements to walkability to help people get between those lengthened stops, and has none of the other trappings of a real BRT system.

    So, sort of the same for the KP Plan. I don't think it's really all that bad to walk across the park, but without a car-free Washington Street, it's going to be a real pain for ordinary people, and a really extra big pain for people who are older or disabled. The half-measures of this are what's messed up.

    I do agree somewhat with your comment about the group being "whiny" (although I don't know if I'd have put it that way, exactly). I think that there is a really good reason for people to feel left out though. I lot of the buzz around KP remodeling has been explicitly about getting rid of the bus riders--read even the prominent Projo Editorial by James Baar/former Mayor Paolino about the matter. I can see why people feel like they're getting the heave-ho, especially when the biggest money in this project is going to a dumb parking garage in one of the other "hubs", and the best aspects of the original plan from Union Studios are being tossed aside.