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TheBostonian

Car Free in Providence?

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You can definitely be car-free here. Between the buses and trolleys, you can access most places in the city and a lot of suburbs, and even the beach and Newport, all for the low price of $1.50 per ride, even less if you buy the $45 monthly pass. Yes, you can go all the way to Newport for $1.50!

Biking is also popular in Providence (you can bring the bike on the bus too), as is walking. And you can easily access Boston and the whole northeast using the train from Providence, which is easily accessible on the gold trolley and most of the 50 buses.

Put it this way: I live in North Kingstown now, a suburb about 20 miles south of Providence, and I get around during the week car free. It's a short walk to the bus stop, then a 35 minute express ride to Providence, or the airport, or even Newport and URI. Although Providence has no light rail system or anything like that, its bus system is pretty reliable and accessible, so it works. If you live on the East Side, Federal Hill, South Providence, Elmwood, Armory, Broadway, Smith Hill, etc., you can pretty much get around by just walking. All are close enough to downcity.

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I live car-free in Providence and I mostly walk. I don't even bother with a pass because I don't ride the bus enough to make it worth it. I live on Federal Hill and work on the East Side and walk to work most days, it takes about 20 minutes.

The buses and trolleys are $1.50, the transfer is just a dime, and you can now transfer from the buses to the trolleys (before the buses were $1.25 and the trolleys were $1 with no transfer between the two). On ozone-alert days the buses are free (a good time to head to Newport :) ).

It helps that I live close to a grocery store, I can walk to the Shaw's in Eagle Square and take the trolley or the 26 back with my groceries. Before Shaw's was there I had to head out to Brewery Parkade and take a cab back. All the best bars, clubs, and restaurants are within easy walking distance (some of the best restaurants are just outside my door on Federal Hill). The Dunkin Donuts center and theatres are a stones throw away.

I can take beach buses to South County during the summer (there's an additional charge for the beach buses, but some beaches (such as Oakland in Warwick) are accessible via the regular $1.50 buses). There's ferry service to Newport which is great. I can take the train to Boston, or Amtrak to New York. Buses run to the Cape. There's ferry service to the Vineyard from Quonset Point. Cabs are cheap and plentiful.

I moved to Providence specifically because I could live here car-free, and my cost of living would be considerably lower than if I lived in Boston.

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Take the 14 for Narragansett Beach, it's one of the nicest in the state and is the normal $1.50 fare. Some of the buses, like the 14, don't run on Sundays though...

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I was car-free for over a year, but found it pretty frustrating. However, I think this may have been in a large part due to living on the East Side. Bus service is very spotty over here, I guess there isn't a high enough ridership or something. Actually, it was fine about 80% of the time, my big issues were night travel, grocery shopping, and visiting my family. I live walking distance to EastSide Marketplace and Whole Paycheck, but I can't really afford to do my regular shopping there. There was one bus (now two, with better service) that could connect me to Shaws in East Providence but there still is no bus that serves my area after 8 pm. My family lives in NH and when I was car-free in Boston, this was no trouble, but getting there from here is a 5 hour ordeal that can only be undertaken twice a day (only takes 2.5 hrs by car). It made it nearly impossible to visit for a weekend. I finally gave in and got a car. I still mostly walk/bike around town. And I often take the bus or commuter rail to Boston instead of bothering to drive.

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I lived car-free in Providence for 4 years (student on college hill). It's not as easy as being car-free in Boston, but it's very do-able.

My big problem was going to the grocery store. None were in easy walking distance for me, and that historical trolly was unreliable, and didn't have the best route, in my opinion.

The other problem was isolation. Since the transit isn't as comprehensive as the T in Boston, I found myself "stuck in a rut" in the sense that I would never explore new places. I walked around college hill, downcity, and foxpoint nearly every day. But I rarely went to Federal Hill, and I didn't even know Wayland square even existed for a few years!

A bike and/or a moped aren't really a workable option year-round because of 1) the hills and 2) the terrible weather. Biking around might work in May, but not February!

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As mentioned, getting to the grocery store without a car can be a pain. A great solution to this is Peapod.com. It takes a little getting used to but the people I know who use it swear by it.

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As mentioned, getting to the grocery store without a car can be a pain. A great solution to this is Peapod.com. It takes a little getting used to but the people I know who use it swear by it.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Peapod works well, but its really expensive. Its a good bit more than Stop and Shops normal prices, and Stop & Shop is pretty expensive as is. When we started going to Shaws every week instead of S&S our average bill went from $150 to $115. Pretty big difference!

Liam

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I agree that the transit system doesn't service the East Side very well. I also find that routes don't run often enough. If you have a very regular and predictable schedule, it's great, and actually can be time saving vs driving.

If, like me, you have a job with unpredictable or occasionally long hours, you can run into real problems.

- Garris

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Thank you for the info.

I see that these questions could be asked in the "Thinking about moving to Providence?" thread. But since I am here, and on the topic of transportation...

How is PVD's rush hour traffic? Can one live in a suburb and expect to easily drive through the city each day?

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If you dont mind walking ( or love walking ) providence is very easy to be car free. Everything is close including the mall, train, bus etc. You will miss out on a few basic things that the mall/downtown cant provide such as a pharmacie but otherwise you can get by just great.

I think you will find a car free life in providence cuts stress down. You'll find you can walk somwhere faster than most will be able to drive and park. Its funny to see the people who passed you on the road 10min ago still trying to get somewhere. It took them a 4,000 pound SUV to do the same task as my walking shoes and feet.

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Thank you for the info.

I see that these questions could be asked in the "Thinking about moving to Providence?" thread.  But since I am here, and on the topic of transportation...

How is PVD's rush hour traffic?  Can one live in a suburb and expect to easily drive through the city each day?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

:rofl: Well, forget Rt 195 W from MA into RI between 7:30am - 8:45am. Same for the afternoon commute between 2:30pm - 6pm. This gets worse everyday. It's mainly because of the way the road was contructed back in the 50's. Not very well planned exits and on ramps and the merge with Rt 95 north and south is brutal during rush hour. Rain and a very bright sun dosen't help matters any. Rt 195 is being re-constructed to eliviate these problems and should be complete by the year 2007. Rt 95 south into the city is decent except 7:30am - 8:30am. Traffic moves along, but slowly. This is because of the merging traffic from Rt 146 south and cars heading to the off ramps for downtown. Rt 95 north gets busy also. I take Rt 95 - 195 at 5:30am and believe it or not there are a lot of people on the road heading for work but I usually have no problem going 65+/mph. During the afternoon commute Rt 95 north and south out of the city is pretty decent, along with Rt 195 E. Rt 95 north IN to the city is usally backed up past the Thurbers Ave curb. As bad as this may sound, you won't have to leave your suburban house 2 hours before work to make it in time.

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Yeah Frankie's right. And for some reason, 95 south from Providence's downtown exits never really backs up too bad, save for an accident or something, then your screwed. 95 north seems to back up morning and afternoon, in the same spot, from Route 10 up to Route 146. On a bad day it can back up all the way from the airport to 146. 195 is a horrible horrible mess, and westbound lately into downtown has been backing up from the state line all the way to 95.

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Also. If your heading south and live west of 95, Rt10 is a real godsend. I work in South County and in the morning I head south on rt10 and get onto 95 just south of alll the nasty and on the way home I usually dont have to deal with more than a mile or two of congestion. It usually gets bad right between the rt37 exit and the rt10 exit. I used to commute from over near PC to Riverside and it took me damn near as long every morning as it does to get to Kingston, even thought it was about 1/4 the distance.

Liam

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Rt 195 is being re-constructed to eliviate these problems and should be complete by the year 2007.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That's more like 2010.

As for grocery stores, I can't wait until the market opens at 110 Westminster. I have Shaw's now, but it's not really on the way home, I have to go past my house, then come back. I have Venda Ravioli for meat and pasta, and I can get bread and milk and canned goods or what-have-you at the convenience store, but there is no place on my way home to go for fresh produce. I'll be in that market at 110 Westsminster a lot I think stocking up on produce for that night's dinner. I think they'll find a number of people who work downtown, or commute via the Providence train station stopping in there regularly and not just be relying on Downcity residents as customers.

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Dont forget they also want to get a market under peerless. Thats what they tell me anyhow but who knows if it will happen.

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That's more like 2010.

As for grocery stores, I can't wait until the market opens at 110 Westminster. I have Shaw's now, but it's not really on the way home, I have to go past my house, then come back. I have Venda Ravioli for meat and pasta, and I can get bread and milk and canned goods or what-have-you at the convenience store, but there is no place on my way home to go for fresh produce. I'll be in that market at 110 Westsminster a lot I think stocking up on produce for that night's dinner. I think they'll find a number of people who work downtown, or commute via the Providence train station stopping in there regularly and not just be relying on Downcity residents as customers.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes, they've said 2007. It won't be untill 2012 untill they finish demolishing the old 195

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I hope it's not uncool at UP to zombie up an old thread like this, but since I went carless last June, I've mostly loved it, so I wanna endorse the concept.

How it works depends where a person lives, naturally, so I can only say that, at least in Mt. Hope (between, say Hope Street, Cypress, Olney and North Main, at a minimum), it's very doable. And it saves me a minimum of $2000/yr, which is great because that's a huge chunk of my income, so I can afford to get my groceries from Whole Foods (as long as I stick pretty much to the house-brand stuff!).

In the summers, the Farmer's Market at Hope High is close by and promotes local growers, which is great. My neighbors and I both grow food in our front and side yards -- tomatoes, melons, peppers, and such -- and we're planning to put corn in the narrow, sunny strip between my house and driveway this year. Even though we fear it will not go well, as the squirrels are rather bold round here. Planting food, even in pots, can really reduce the need to shop for food, and if you swap stuff with neighbors who grow different plants, you can shop for a lot of your summer diet right on your block.

When you do shop, you can just make lists and get a lot of what you need at the one time, rather than making a trip to the store everytime you run out of something. For me, it's been great to use the old-school pantry off my kitchen pretty much the way it was used when it was new -- as a store-room for food staples. I stash half-gallons or so of various grains and beans in jars, as well as flour and cornmeal and so on...potatoes and onions, root vegetables -- a really nice thing about the pantry is that with the door closed in the winter, it's normally 10-15 degrees cooler in there. Makes me appreciate the wisdom of designing a food storage area that way. But even without a pantry, shopping and storing bulk foods in jars, or frozen, really cuts down on the need to travel in the winter, so it makes it easier to live without a car at hand. In the nice months, I love my bike.

Occasionally, I've needed to borrow a car to get to an appointment or so -- but friends in the neighborhood have been a big help the three or four times it's been necessary. My neighbor across the street, who has a truck, has always been up for a trip to Home Depot for wood or whatever.

From Mt. Hope, it's an easy walk to Thayer Street and the Avon, or to Hope Village, or the train station...I can get to Boston or Maine with not a whole lot of effort.

So being without a car really works for me right now. Once I got over the initial trauma of not being able to go to Building #19 any time I wanted to, I began to like it. The one -- absurd -- downside to it is that the insurance company raised my homeowners' insurance policy by about $300 a year, due to the loss of their stupid car-and-house-both (a/k/a don't-even-think-about-Geico) discount. I'm still saving about $1200 per year by not paying them for car insurance, but I can't insure a car if I don't own one, so the loss of the discount is a de facto penalty for not owning a car, which is assbackwards, if you were to ask me.

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I am also carless in Providence, since August 2006. I decided to try and practice what I preach and thus far I love it. I borrow a car every now and again but generally am fine without one.

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People can also avoid driving by using local dairies like Munroe that still deliver milk plus lots of food items. My aunt who lives in NJ was surprised to find out that we get milk delivered because that's pretty much died out where she lives.

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People can also avoid driving by using local dairies like Munroe that still deliver milk plus lots of food items. My aunt who lives in NJ was surprised to find out that we get milk delivered because that's pretty much died out where she lives.

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I've been car free since 1974, except for a horrid 6 month period in the year 2000. My boyfriend has been car free since 1966. We're both freaks.

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how about a tree truck? i'll be on camp, grandview, tecumseh this spring and i expect to see you front and center. With snacks.

oh and Ari--i'll be on Hope Street too, even dropping a tree off at your house, so you better get some work duds and a shovel, dude.

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