With the improvement of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s bus schedule to Rhode Island College and half-price bus fare now permanently offered to RIC students, a shelter will be built at the bus stop. The approximately $90,000 project is estimated to be completed by mid-summer.
“Vice President for Administration and Finance William Gearhart is heading the project, and he has solicited architectural assistance for designing the shelter and put the project out to bid,” said Aaron Buckley, former speaker of Student Parliament, who has been actively involved with the project since it was commissioned in October of 2010.
“I would hope that the shelter would make waiting for the bus much more comfortable and result in a greater use of public transportation,” said Gearhart. “This outcome would decrease the number of vehicles on campus, which would positively impact the environment in a number of ways.”
The bus shelter is also expected to have several seating areas, which is a great step up from the two benches that are currently in place. Along with the convenient seating, the bus shelter is also said to have an interior with glass walls, bicycle racks, lighting and space for advertising and notices.
“Some of these features are still being tweaked and worked on with respect to staying within budget, but we’re not just talking about one of those typical RIPTA bus shelters,” said Buckley. “This is expected to be an aesthetically pleasing and highly functional transit hub.”
The project is being paid for by President Nancy Carriuolo’s discretionary presidential budget, which means that it will avoid the wider-ranging and longer bidding process that is required for use of most public funds by the state of Rhode Island.
During the winter, many students face waiting outside in the cold for a bus, with the only escape for riders being in the lobby of Robert’s Hall – creating a risk of a bus leaving without them. After construction of the bus shelter is completed, students will be able to comfortably wait for the bus inside a structure that has a roof and is entirely weather-resistant.
Apart from the construction of the bus shelter, RIC has made several other changes that have helped to make riding RIPTA more convenient and enjoyable for commuters. The Board of Governors for Higher Education has made half-price bus fare a permanent reality for RIC students, in response to resolutions passed by Student Community Government, Inc.
Students can purchase RIPTA monthly bus passes at half price at the Campus Store in the Student Union. All a student needs to do is show a valid RIC ID; the price for a one-way ride on the bus (not including a transfer) has escalated to $2.00.
Up until recently, there was no service after 10:30 p.m. to or from campus, as well as no service available on Sundays. This was an inconvenience for those students that had night classes and wanted to stay late to get some homework done, or those that live on campus and wanted to travel to and from school on the weekends.
“We now have Sunday service to and from campus on the 26 Line,” said Buckley. “We also have several trips for late-night travel.”
“Unfortunately, only the 26 Line serves campus on Sundays. The 55 Providence College/Fatima Hospital Line does not,” Buckley added.
Maria Coleman, a resident student, agrees that the bus shelter will be a positive asset to the RIC campus.
“It would be great if there was a bus shelter, especially since the weather in Rhode Island is so mysterious,” she said. “It could be sunny one moment and raining the next. It would be very beneficial.”
Akintunde Akinlapa, a recent RIC graduate, rode the bus to and from school every day for his entire five years at Rhode Island College. He says that creating a bus shelter is an excellent idea.
“As we all know, this institution is based on the commuters who come from various states from all over the nation. Transportation is necessary,” said Akinlapa. “Rhode Island is a state that has crazy, bi-polar like weather. It would be efficient to have something like this to keep the students who are waiting for the bus in a place where they can rest, eat and study while waiting, rather than being outside in the cold for like 20 minutes.”