We all know how bad Rhode Island's rail service is. There are three MBTA stations (Providence, TF Green Airport, and Wickford Junction), as well as Amtrak, which stops at Providence, Kingston, and Westerly. However, there is a way to possibly improve the commuter rail services throughout the state.
First, complete and open Pawtucket/Central Falls. This station is already under construction and MBTA services are planned to start stopping here. Services should go further though.
Wickford Junction is a terrible terminus. The station is a great park-and-ride station right off of Route 4, but there are better places to terminate the Providence Line. Nearby is Kingston station on Amtrak. This station features everything a new Commuter Rail station would need, such as high-level platforms, parking, and something nearby. Nearby is the University of Rhode Island, with about 17,000 students attending. Convenient, frequent, and affordable rail service to nearby Providence would likely be popular among these young students.
To accomodate this affordability, and provide more affordable journeys for Rhode Islanders, fare zones would need to change. I'm always ranting about fare zones. Right now, each of the 3 Commuter Rail stations has its own fare zone (Providence is in 8, TF Green Airport in 9, and Wickford Junction in 10). A good place to start would be to bring TF Green Airport down to Zone 8, and provide the lowest possible price to travelers using TF Green Airport, as it and Providence would be in the same zone. Wickford Junction can be bumped to Zone 9, providing cheaper journeys to Providence and beyond (and to not have 2 zones between stations). Kingston would either be in Zone 9 or Zone 10.
If they wanted to go further, the Commuter Rail could also be extended to Amtrak's station in Westerly.
This is Part 1 of a two-part series on expanded transportation in Rhode Island. Part 2 will be coming soon, and will cover an extended bus network coming from the expanded services at potential Commuter Rail stations mentioned here.
If you would like to read more about this topic, I fully recommend reading this great post on The Providence Planner, written by Heli, a frequent commenter on this blog.
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Miles in Transit on July 14, 2021 at 1:04 pm: Short and sweet! I like it! I'm excited to hear more the feeder bus network you want to do.
Heli on July 14, 2021 at 6:21 pm: oo cool! This is short but nice and professional! Great job