RIPTA preparing to launch rapid bus service

Every city has buses, and every bus system has critics.

"I usually have to wait a long time for the bus," one bus rider said.

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is getting ready to implement improvements recommended by a comprehensive study, and one of the most significant changes will affect the system's two busiest routes: Broad Street and North Main Street in Providence.

"For the first time ever in June, we'll be unveiling our R-Line, which is rapid transit, and that's going to be our two key corridor routes and our most traveled routes," RIPTA CEO Raymond Studley said Friday during a taping of "10 News Conference." "Through collaboration with the city of Providence and DOT, we were successful in getting traffic prioritization for the first time."

The system speeds up travel by using a transponder in the front of the bus that sends out a signal. The signal is picked up by a receiver on top of a traffic light, which can then extend a green light to the bus's advantage while not affecting the pedestrian walk light.

That little edge for the bus makes a big difference over the length of the route.

"This is easily one of the best things you can do to save time. The return on investment here is pretty profound," said Greg Nordin, a RIPTA planner.

Nordin said it will mean nobody waits for more than 10 minutes on Broad Street or North Main Street.

"I think it's actually an improvement because, you know, that way the state is now with traffic issues, and North Main Street and Broad Street are the busiest roads here in Providence," said David Kentrick, a RIPTA rider.

Studley said RIPTA will finish in the black this fiscal year, two years after it ended with an $8 million deficit.