If you’re like me you do everything you can to avoid Kennedy Plaza.
You drive around the downtown area and generally keep your distance from the heart of Providence.
If you’re nothing at all like me you probably think I sound crazy right now and that’s a problem.
Kenedey Plaza is located in the heart and soul of our city. Our universities, convention centers, and mall are all within walking distance.
You would think that all Rhode Islanders would be utilizing RIPTA services to get around. They don’t.
A New Solution
This isn’t the 1950s. In the 50s, families were lucky to have more than one TV or vehicle. Public transportation was a necessary way of life.
Today, it’s used by the frugal, the less fortunate, and the people who work for companies that are too cheap to provide downtown parking.
Don’t get me wrong. We need our RIPTA services and they need to be easily accessible but not at a cost.
The Kennedy Plaza RIPTA terminal is an eyesore and literally serves as a dumping ground for the less fortunate. In 2017 there were over 3,000 prisoners released from the ACI. Each and every one was provided with bus fare and a free ride to guess where? Kennedy Plaza.
Now I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with this. I fully support that system.
What I can’t stand behind is the location of the bus terminal itself. The downtown hub should be moved to the outskirts of the city. The Rapid Line makes stops throughout providence every 10 minutes.
Move RIPTA Towards India Point
If we moved the RIPTA hub towards India Point, we would almost instantly clean up the city center. A dirty city center is a deterrent for tourism. It hinders the way the city is viewed by prospective college students.
We want people to feel safe downtown. What we have now is a staging area for ignorant jaywalking humans trying to make a bus and an ex-con dumping grounds.
I am downtown on a daily basis and I am forced to narrowly avoid striking at least one ignorant jaywalking pedestrian constantly.
Providence Police do not have the resources to fine these people and the acts go ignored. People just dart out in front of you and expect you to stop, so they can make their bus. The less the Providence Police Department enforces these crimes, the more people feel like it’s perfectly fine to commit them.
We have to clean that area up if we want to see this city flourish. We complain about a rise in violence in the city, and at the Providence Place Mall ,yet we continue to bus the problems directly into the heart of the city.
If we moved the terminal away from Kennedy Plaza we would immediately have a safer and cleaner city. Sure the people looking to cause trouble could still come flooding in, but we wouldn’t be busing them there ourselves. And we wouldn’t have to avoid aggressive RIPTA bus drivers. We wouldn’t have to dodge ignorant jaywalkers with death wishes.
We wouldn’t have to navigate around buses wider than the lanes on their sides of the street.
Big City Example
Have you ever been to New Orleans? Have you ever rode the St. Charles Streetcar? New Orleans is a filthy bullet riddled city. But a tourist wouldn’t know that.
I had to live there for an extended period of time to experience any of that. Rookie tourists go to NOLA to drink cheap booze by the yard and trade flashes for beads while dancing to music they will almost certainly forget.
Returning veteran tourists soak in the deep French culture and amazing cuisine while they listen to music that will change their lives. And they keep coming back, religiously.
That’s because they never see the bullet riddled gang torn violent streets of New Orleans. Do you know why? Infrastructure.
New Orleans has moved everything around so college students and tourists never see the sad side to the city.
Maybe it’s time we start taking notes from some of the larger cities, with infinitely worse crime, that continue to thrive as tourist attractions. Providence is nice but with a few simple changes to our infrastructure we could be so much more.