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TheBostonian

Recent Visit to Providence

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Hello there:

I made a day trip to Providence and I have some observations from an outsider I'd like to share.

First, I was impressed at how active the city was on a Tuesday afternoon. Yeah, it was great weather, but the mall was surprisingly full too. And the mall is inspiring for someone interested in urban planning. I'm sure this has been said before, many times. Heck, I've probably myself mentioned how right it is. Malls are notorious for pulling people away from a city and contributing to sprawl and all that crap. But everything wrong about malls is answered with Providence Place: it has ground level retail/dining, it hides a highway, has a city street wall and no oceans of parking, etc. My next surprise was all the old and beautiful homes on benefit street that I didn't see on my last trip. But the best surprise of all is that hopping area of Thayer St. next to Brown U. Does it have a name? Someone asking me how to get there called it "a main drag of restaurants."

Some of the best of the city is interrupted by GTech and Waterplace construction. I look forward to that stuff being complete and I cross my fingers for 110 to move forward.

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Hello there:

I made a day trip to Providence and I have some observations from an outsider I'd like to share.

First, I was impressed at how active the city was on a Tuesday afternoon. Yeah, it was great weather, but the mall was surprisingly full too. And the mall is inspiring for someone interested in urban planning. I'm sure this has been said before, many times. Heck, I've probably myself mentioned how right it is. Malls are notorious for pulling people away from a city and contributing to sprawl and all that crap. But everything wrong about malls is answered with Providence Place: it has ground level retail/dining, it hides a highway, has a city street wall and no oceans of parking, etc. My next surprise was all the old and beautiful homes on benefit street that I didn't see on my last trip. But the best surprise of all is that hopping area of Thayer St. next to Brown U. Does it have a name? Someone asking me how to get there called it "a main drag of restaurants."

Some of the best of the city is interrupted by GTech and Waterplace construction. I look forward to that stuff being complete and I cross my fingers for 110 to move forward.

That restaurant section/business section is just referred to as "Thayer Street". It used to have more of a Brown feel to it with College Book Store, University Drugs, etc, but most are gone in favor of more generic stores. There is a constant change of ownership and names of these restaurants. Some have changed locations. It is a constantly changing area that has not spread further on Thayer Street. It has encroached to some of the side streets though.

By the way, how did you get to Providence from Boston?

Mark

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And... y'know, much as I hate to say anything good about malls (because I generally hate them), I think Providence Place is pretty good, for the reasons you cite. We ended up going there several times on our scouting trip last month, since we were staying at the Westin -- and although a local business district is better in terms of what it does for the city, PP does better than most malls in terms of the restaurants, parking, location not being too much of a waste of space, etc. Faint praise, perhaps -- "not as bad as most" -- but it's a start. And considering the importance of that location, you could have done a lot worse!

Urb

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By the way, how did you get to Providence from Boston?

Mark

Car, parked in PP garage. On my last trip I was alone and took the train in, which I prefer.

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Car, parked in PP garage. On my last trip I was alone and took the train in, which I prefer.

Can I ask you the fare for the Boston-Prov trip? When I went to school in New Haven it was almost $30 round-trip to get to NY, so as a poor college kid I used to just drive down, park on a side street in Manhattan, lock it up, and cross my fingers. But I do prefer trains.

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Can I ask you the fare for the Boston-Prov trip? When I went to school in New Haven it was almost $30 round-trip to get to NY, so as a poor college kid I used to just drive down, park on a side street in Manhattan, lock it up, and cross my fingers. But I do prefer trains.

I'm at work now and don't have the time to look it up ... but I believe the commuter rail is at www.mbta.com. It's wicked cheap compared to that $30 price. Keep in mind how far away New Haven is from NYC compared with Prov/Boston. I'm sure that is a big reason... Amtrak is a ripoff. If for some reason you can't use the commuter rail, bonanza and then greyhound are viable alternatives. I remember paying less for the commuter rail, but not exactly how much. I do remember paying $15 for a round trip thru one of the bus lines.

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Six bucks on the MBTA, Twelve on an Amtrak, Thirty on the Accela. That's as accurate as the last times I took each but the MBTA price is definitely current, I take that one often. Get your MBTA ticket at the station though, it's a dollar more on the train during peak times.

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Get your MBTA ticket at the station though, it's a dollar more on the train during peak times.

Although the surly teens at Cafe LeFrance (why there?) who oversee the MBTA tickets stop selling them at about 5:45, and the Cafe closes at 6.

Regarding Thayer Street, it does have high retail turnover. One of the reasons is the rent there, which is, rumor says, the city's highest. Unlike many college retail areas, where the local university has a real estate investment and can direct and nurture the direction of retail activity, Brown doesn't own many of the buildings, so the free market reigns.

The street's retail portion does feel a little short to most of us, but it is limited in expansion by Brown University dorms and classrooms to the South and private residences to the North. The street regrettably won't get longer anytime soon.

- Garris

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Although the surly teens at Cafe LeFrance (why there?) who oversee the MBTA tickets stop selling them at about 5:45, and the Cafe closes at 6.

The MBTA tickets are sold at Cafe La France because Amtrak kicked the T out of the ticket window when the T dropped Amtrak as the operator of the Commuter Rail. I wish the city could somehow get Amtrak to let the T back into the ticket counter, or get an MBTA/RIPTA/Information Booth built in the station.

The onboard surchage is only during rush, and isn't imposed when the in-station ticket 'agent' is closed.

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The MBTA tickets are sold at Cafe La France because Amtrak kicked the T out of the ticket window when the T dropped Amtrak as the operator of the Commuter Rail. I wish the city could somehow get Amtrak to let the T back into the ticket counter, or get an MBTA/RIPTA/Information Booth built in the station.

All the more reason to put the MBTA into Providence Place as the extra stop it was to be when first planned. This would allow indoor access to the city thru PP and the Westin. Maybe PP would even help find a move such as this, especially with more pax coming from south of the city.

Mark

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new haven to new york is a lot farther than providence to boston... metro north also has greater demand i think. last i took it from new haven to grand central, it was like $26 round trip. providence to boston is $6 one way. MBTA

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new haven to new york is a lot farther than providence to boston... metro north also has greater demand i think. last i took it from new haven to grand central, it was like $26 round trip. providence to boston is $6 one way. MBTA

I live in Norwalk, about 30 minutes closer to NY than New Haven and I pay around $27 round trip. It has gotten to the point that if I'm going into the city with my boyfriend we just drive and pay to park as it often ends up cheaper and more convenient - especially at night.

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I live in Norwalk, about 30 minutes closer to NY than New Haven and I pay around $27 round trip. It has gotten to the point that if I'm going into the city with my boyfriend we just drive and pay to park as it often ends up cheaper and more convenient - especially at night.

holy crap! metro north is really expensive now... $28 off peak from new haven for a round trip. $37 peak (although that convenience is better than driving during rush hour).

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holy crap! metro north is really expensive now... $28 off peak from new haven for a round trip. $37 peak (although that convenience is better than driving during rush hour).

Yeah... and their cars SUCK. The double deckers that run between Boston and Providence are so much better with the table seats and the more comfortable regular spots. The only thing is the metro north cars do take you to arguably the greatest city in the world while the MBTA can only bring you to the greatest city in New England.

Slightly off topic for the RI forum, but I wish shoreline east would start running weekends... I had to drive an hour and a half to New Haven to catch a train to the city, which I find pretty stupid to have to do living in the most densely populated corridor in the richest country in the world.

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Yeah... and their cars SUCK. The double deckers that run between Boston and Providence are so much better with the table seats and the more comfortable regular spots. The only thing is the metro north cars do take you to arguably the greatest city in the world while the MBTA can only bring you to the greatest city in New England.

Slightly off topic for the RI forum, but I wish shoreline east would start running weekends... I had to drive an hour and a half to New Haven to catch a train to the city, which I find pretty stupid to have to do living in the most densely populated corridor in the richest country in the world.

well, there should be service to westerly on shoreline east and a RI commuter rail tha goes to westerly to connect the 2.

shoreline east sucks royally.

MTA can't have double deckers to grand central because of the tunnel, they're too short for taller trains. they have double deckers to penn station though.

and i'd argue that boston is not the greatest city in new england... but that's just me. :P

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I have this vision of megalopolis areas of the country with maglev trains connecting major cities leading to smaller trains to subways/light rail. So New York, Boston, Providence, Philly, DC and Baltimore for instance would all be connected by high speed trains that go right downtown and from there you could hook up to subways. So much nicer than flying between these cities. Each megalopolis would have airports connecting to other megalopolis areas. Japan has tons of these maglev trains that can get up to 300 mph. You lose maybe 200 mph with a train over a plane but fuel costs and the fact that airports are always in the outskirts of cities where trains can get downtown is a huge advantage.

http://travel.howstuffworks.com/maglev-train.htm

Maybe someday

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Japanese trains are not actually maglev (I believe Shanghai is the only place that has regularly scheduled passenger maglev service at this time). But the Japanese trains do indeed travel around 200mph.

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Japanese trains are not actually maglev (I believe Shanghai is the only place that has regularly scheduled passenger maglev service at this time). But the Japanese trains do indeed travel around 200mph.

Oh, you're abolutely right. I did mean high speed trains in general. Can't get anything past you Cotuit! :)

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Can't get anything past you Cotuit! :)

Hehe. :)

There are proposals for maglev in the states. DC to Baltimore being the one that leaps to mind, and I think there's some proposal in Pennsylvania and maybe California. But I beleive these are all on paper and don't have anything in the way of funding or concrete plans created.

For the Northeast Corridor (at least the Boston to New York portion), I think the current corridor needs to be replaced. There are too many curves, too many low crossings, too many places where trains need to slow down. There needs to be found a corridor where trains can open up and really fly. Leave the current corridor for local service such as MetroNorth and SLE and create good connections (people movers, monorails, LRT) between the local and highspeed stations. I think in Providence, the highspeed tracks should shift west and connect to Hartford, then down to New Haven and onto New York. Southern RI and Southeast CT can be connected to the system by the local service on the current tracks.

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