As R.I. Ages, Demand for Public Transit Grows

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

Some compelling statistics were recently released by the Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program. These statistics and projections support long-term planning for transportation, land use, economic development, environmental policies and social justice issues.

These numbers are drafts for future reports such as Land Use 2025 and Transportation 2035 and subject to revision, but they offer insight into expected trends for the Ocean State.

Population in 2040
Rhode Island’s population is projected to increase by 17,537 to 1,052,567 by 2040 — a total growth of just 1.7 percent. The U.S. population is expected to increase by 23 percent during that time.

Providence expects a modest population increase to about 185,000. South Kingstown is expected to see the largest population growth. Warwick’s population continues on a downward trend.

The modest population growth in the state and decline in some cities and towns is largely due to the growth of an aging population and fewer people moving to Rhode Island.

The state’s birthrate is expected to drop from about 12,100 newborns a year to about 10,500.

The number of deaths is expected to increase from an average of 9,600 to 12,600.

The decrease in births and increase in deaths is largely attributed to the aging Baby Boomer generation.

Transportation
More people are riding the bus and biking to work. Fewer commuters are carpooling.

The average travel time to work in Rhode Island is 22.9 minutes. The U.S. average is 25.3 minutes.

                           Getting to Work in R.I.

 

2000

2010

Drive Alone

80.1%

80.3%

Public Transit

2.5

2.8

Carpooling

10.4

8.2

Biking

0.3

0.8

Walking

3.8

3.8

Work at Home

2.2

3.3


Since 2010, RIPTA's fixed-route ridership has increased about 11 percent, and access to public transit has increased in minority neighborhoods since 2000.

The state Department of Transportation says public transit is chronically underfunded. Since 1995, six blue ribbon panels and commissions have failed to deliver a long-term funding solution.