MBTA/RIPTA Pawtucket-Central Falls Transit Center opens

Jan. 24, 2023
Local, state and federal dignitaries gathered at the transit cent for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

More than a decade of work and planning was celebrated Jan. 23, 2023, with the opening of the Pawtucket-Central Falls Transit Center in Pawtucket, RI. The new transit center will be served by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Providence rail line, as well as the statewide bus network operated by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA).

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) notes the rail and bus station will improve transit connections for residents living in the corridor. Previously, 72 trains passed through, but residents did not have access to them. MBTA will serve the new transit center with 40 weekday stops and 18 weekend stops. RIPTA will serve the station with 10 bus routes.

“I want to thank our congressional delegation and all the federal, state and local partners who helped make this day a reality,” Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee said. “This new station is a major addition to Pawtucket, Central Falls and all of Blackstone Valley, supporting economic development efforts in these communities while providing tremendous transit options for all Rhode Islanders and those visiting our great state.”

Beyond the added connectivity of its transit elements, the project aims promote transit-oriented development in the Pawtucket-Central Falls area.

“This new station will create new economic opportunities for Rhode Islanders, and it’s also a major opportunity for travelers to get to know one of the best parts our state,” said Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos. “Riders disembarking at Pawtucket-Central Falls will get to dive right into the food, art and culture that make these cities unique. Investments in robust public transit makes it easier for visitors to discover and fall in love with our state.”

Barletta Heavy Division, Inc., was awarded a design-build contract for the project and began construction in November 2018. The transit center’s rail hub includes dedicated platforms for northbound and southbound service, a glass-enclosed pedestrian bridge, elevators, ramps and stairs. Its elegant design utilizes state-of-the-art composite panels with covered waiting areas. The train station also has a separate drop off area and set of stairs and ramps to the platform on the Barton Street side of the rail corridor.

The bus hub includes five berths with covered shelters for passengers, with arrivals and departures every two to five minutes during peak hours. The hub connects to a transit emphasis corridor, which includes dedicated bus lanes and bike lanes along Exchange Street and Goff Avenue, linking the new transit facility to the heart of downtown Pawtucket. Bicycle storage racks are available in the bus hub plaza area.

A 200-car parking lot will be operated by RIDOT adjacent to the transit center. Radar-enhanced pedestrian detection crosswalks link the parking lot, bus hub and train station.

“The MBTA is excited to broaden the reach of our commuter rail network as we offer this additional transit option for our current Pawtucket-area passengers and welcome new riders to the system,” said MBTA Interim General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville. “The Providence/Stoughton Commuter Rail Line will make regular and convenient stops on weekdays and weekends at the new Pawtucket-Central Falls Transit Center, offering efficient service to and from South Station in downtown Boston.”

“This station with its built-in bus hub provides many options for commuters locally and across Rhode Island to make quick and easy connections to their destinations. It also will help mitigate congestion on our highways and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Rhode Island and Massachusetts,” said RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr.

The $63 million project was supported by federal funds, including a $13.1 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and a $7 million Bus and Facilities Grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), as well as $20 million in funding as part of the FTA’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program.

“We are excited to be a vital part of this project, with our buses enabling people from all over the state to easily make the connection to rail travel,” said RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian. “The more convenient public transit is, the more people are likely to leave their cars behind. This eases traffic congestion and also reduces carbon emissions – a winning combination for our state.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.