PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is partnering with the capital city to step up police and other security measures at Kennedy Plaza.
“We keep hearing from passengers that they want more amenities,” RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian told 12 News. “One of the things that keeps coming up is some sense of security. This is a good way to make things better for the 900,000 people that we move every month.”
RIPTA previously hired private security to patrol the area, which Avedisian said, “didn’t really work out the way we wanted it to.”
Now, RIPTA is taking $100,000 that used to pay for that private security and giving it to the city to beef up the number of police officers in the plaza.
“It’s important our passengers see they have some kind of authority figures they can say something is going on here, something is happening here,” Avedisian said.
“With these additional investments, we are making our downtown safer and a more welcoming place for the many residents, businesses, students, riders and visitors that pass through it each day,” Mayor Brett Smiley said in a statement.
RIPTA will also be giving $50,000 to the city’s Downtown Improvement District for additional safety ambassadors around the plaza. The safety ambassadors are already patrolling Kennedy Plaza in bright yellow jackets.
But some — like former Mayor Joe Paolino, whose Beatrice Hotel faces the plaza — want the buses moved out of there altogether.
“You need to bring new life into that area, and you need to put together a bus hub that’s conducive to peoples’ needs,” Paolino said. “To keep it where it is now in Kennedy Plaza, it’s a nonstarter. It doesn’t work.”
RIPTA is currently seeking proposals to build a new transit center on Dorrance Street.