The Move RI Forward coalition gathered on the Amtrak Station plaza on Monday, October 6th to show support for the intermodal hub bond, which will appear as Question #6 on the ballot in November. Spokesman Scott Wolf, executive director of Grow Smart RI, described a brighter future for our state that includes a first class transit system.
By making the right investments and showing a commitment to our vision, he said that we can reduce congestion while raising the state’s profile. He noted that the hub has already received a federal TIGER planning grant, and the project has the potential to leverage significant investment through both government and private resources. He encouraged the group to look at mid-sized metro areas around the country that are thriving—and acknowledged that they all have high quality transit systems. To compete with them, we need a boost!
Mike Lewis, director of RIDOT, pointed to the growth that our transit systems have already experienced, noting that the Providence train station is Amtrak’s 15th busiest (out of 500 around the country), and it’s the busiest commuter rail station within the MBTA system (when not considering the major hubs in Boston). He stressed that we need to improve RIPTA’s link with regional and national transit systems, making them more accessible to current RIPTA riders and drawing in new riders.
George Nee of RI AFL-CIO confirmed that this issue is critical to continuing development in Rhode Island. Laurie White, president of The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, added that to attract Millennials to our workforce, and to put us on par with other cities, “we need a sleek, modern rail hub that links with buses and pedestrian activities.”
Other speakers included Governor Lincoln Chafee and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, chairman of RIPTA’s board.