RIPTA asks Bristol for time to have drivers think inside the ‘box’

RIPTA routes in Barrington could be changing and elsewhere around Rhode Island. RIPTA routes in Barrington could be changing and elsewhere around Rhode Island.

RIPTA busses that angle in to bus boxes disrupt traffic flow and take up valuable parking spaces on Hope Street.

RIPTA busses that angle in to bus boxes disrupt traffic flow and take up valuable parking spaces on Hope Street.

Bristol town officials have one request of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority: If bus drivers aren’t going to pull into the ‘bus boxes’ to pick up and drop off passengers, then eliminate them and free up the valuable parking spaces they are using.

With the completion of the Hope Street road repair project last fall, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation painted large rectangular areas at most, if not all of the 12 the bus stops along the half mile stretch. While the intent of the boxes is to give bus drivers an area where they can pull to the curb, few are used properly.

“The (number) of bus stops is the same as I always remember them,” town council chairwoman Mary Parella said. “The busses don’t go over and come in for a landing like they’re supposed to.”

To comply with Rhode Island’s ‘Complete Streets’ initiative, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation is making efforts to incorporate “pedestrianism” into its projects, said Mark Therrien of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. Bristol, he said, is the first community in the state where bus boxes are used.

Once the Hope Street road and sidewalk was completed in the fall of 2012, the number of bus stops within the half mile stretch became glaring, with white, rectangular lines taking up to three car lengths to mark the area where busses can pick up and drop off passengers. But while the ‘bus boxes’ are designed to keep traffic flowing while busses safely service passengers, bus drivers continue to angle in, blocking traffic flow.

“I admit, we need to train our drivers so they get off the road,” Mr. Therrien said. “The first month they weren’t pulling in at all. Now they’re pulling in half way.”

Despite the drivers’ improvements, town councilman Nathan Calouro would just as soon see the spots used as parking spaces to benefit businesses.

“Every parking spot is valuable. If we’re not going to use them for one thing, let’s use them for another. It’s clear to me that they could use it, but they choose not to,” Mr. Calouro said.

In an effort to comply with the complete streets mandate and be sensitive to the parking issue in the downtown area, Mr. Therrien asked for six months to ensure that RIPTA drivers receive instruction on bus box use. After walking the area with Town Administrator Tony Teixeira and director of community development, Diane Williamson weeks ago, Mr. Therrien also conceded that “maybe there are too many bus stops” in such a small area. Instead of having six stops in each direction, RIPTA will trim that number to three in each direction, keeping the stops at and Franklin Street, State Street and Constitution Avenue.

“I think it’s fair to give six months as a study to see if your drivers are using them,” Ms. Parella said.

Mr. Calouro, however, seemed unwilling to give any more than six months.

“I say, in six months if we’re still not pulling in, we’re wasting our time. Let’s reclaim some of these spots,” he said.

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3 Comments

  1. Kristin Browne said:

    Pedestrianism – really State of RI? WHERE THEN, have all of our north/ south crosswalks gone? there are NONE between Constitution St and as far north as Bradford where many of us cross to bring kids to school right there. WHy? does no one intend to walk north or south along Hope St. any more? the corner by Citizens Bank is particularly bad with traffic turning up state st very often and with MANY people crossing there (Often again, to bring kids to and from the school in the next block) and there is often DANGEROUS confusion at this particular crossing. Bring back our crosswalks, please. HURRY. it’s dangerous on Hope St. and YES we all walk north/ south along the street.
    I wont even get into where the East/West crosswalks went. A few remain but still not enough. it’s a busy pedestrian town. Give us back the safety of crosswalks and ditch some bus stops.

    SHOW US that pedestrianism is a priority by acting on these problems.

  2. dave said:

    Kristin is absolutely correct about the HORRIBLE job RIPTA did to downtown Bristol. Speeding has increased and there are NO crosswalks that can currently be seen with the fading white paint of only a few months ago. There should be 4 crosswalks at every intersection and get rid of the bus pull-ins. Do they geniuses at RIPTA expect cars to pull around into oncoming traffic to get around the temporary stop?

    Let me guess. The government is going to come in a solve the problem that they created but only if enough people complain. I have commented more than once on this issue but nobody will care until someone gets hurt. Then the mighty political class will step up to save you.

    Go ahead and keep promoting the benefits of visiting Bristol while making no safe walking areas. Everyone should hope that a driver is not reaching for their wallet while walking thru the very dangerous Downtown Bristol.

  3. DownTown said:

    It looks like quite a few cross walks in town have been obliterated by the construction.

    If they ever get around to putting them back it would be nice to see people actually use them rather than crossing where ever they please.

    As far as the buses go that space isn’t large enough for the bus to fully pull in without partially blocking traffic on the cross street. The buses put their blinkers on and pull out even with a car passing them legally (I’ve seen it) so why bother with the pretense of the lane for them?? The additional parking spaces are worth the minuscule delays.

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