New RIPTAProvidence run proves popular with URI students
KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 25, 2002 -- In an effort to offer University of Rhode Island students with expanded entertainment options and safe transportation alternatives, the URI Transportation Center and the R.I. Department of Transportation have contracted with the R.I. Public Transit Authority to provide an additional bus trip between Kingston and Providence on Thursday nights.
Demand for seats is so high that an extra bus is often needed to shuttle all the students back to Kingston.
According to Richard Horn, executive director of the URI Transportation Center, the idea was proposed by DOT Implementation Aide Cyndi McCarthy and her daughter, Kelly Octeau, a URI senior who serves as president of URIs Panhellenic Council. They wanted to find a way to make students more aware of alternative modes of transportation to various entertainment venues.
So the URI Office of Student Life and Communications Professor Norbert Mundorf, along with nine of his students, began to investigate transportation options.
"We looked at limo services, ride sharing programs, rental car companies, and ultimately focused on RIPTA as the best option, in part because other groups on campus are also working with RIPTA to expand bus service to campus," explained Mundorf.
Added Horn, "We wanted to provide ways for students to get off campus without using cars. In addition to addressing the concerns of the local communities about increased traffic, we also wanted to shift the emphasis of student entertainment to non-drinking options."
On-campus options for student entertainment are limited in Kingston, so the programs aim was to provide transportation to Providence, where a wide variety of events and activities are readily available, including concerts, movies, dance clubs, ice skating and the Providence Place Mall.
The new RIPTA run leaves Kingston at 7:45 p.m. and returns at 1 a.m., two hours later than the last regularly scheduled bus run. Funding for the bus is provided by the URI Transportation Center and RIDOT. Fares are charged to riders like on any other RIPTA route.
"The first three weeks of the fall semester, the bus was nearly empty, but after an awareness campaign that included email, voicemail, door-hangers and word of mouth, the bus is almost always full now," Mundorf said. "The only issue is that many students want the bus to leave Providence even later."
With the success of this effort, additional options are being explored, including targeting off-campus students and adding routes to Newport and to sites in South County.
"What were really trying to do is shift attitudes and change behaviors," said Horn. "We want to create a favorable attitude toward public transportation."
For Information: Richard Horn 874-9091, Norbert Mundorf 874-4725, Todd McLeish 874-7892