Rhode Island State House

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Lauren H. Carson to prohibit the operation of the safe turn alert system on “talking” RIPTA buses in residential neighborhoods will have a hearing tomorrow before the House Corporations Committee.

The hearing is scheduled tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 6, at the rise of the House session (around 4:30 p.m.) in Room 203 on the second floor of the State House.

Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) introduced the legislation after fielding dozens of complaints from Newport constituents about the loud warning system installed last year on the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s fixed-route bus fleet.

The system issues a loud announcement of “Caution! The bus is turning!” to alert pedestrians and others when a bus begins to make a turn.

Almost as soon as the system went into use, Representative Carson says she began hearing from angry constituents about all the noise they make while operating, which can be as early as 6 a.m.

While using the system might make sense in some busy downtown areas of municipalities around the state, she said, Newport’s compactness means bus routes run through many narrow roads in residential neighborhoods.

“This system is blasting these announcements in neighborhoods right at the second-floor level, into people’s bedroom windows while they’re trying to sleep,” said Representative Carson. “Of course, pedestrian and bicyclist safety is a top priority for Newport, since we are so walkable and have so many tourists. But the negative impact this is having on the quality of life of people who live along bus routes is tremendous. I have little doubt buses can operate safely while turning that system off in residential neighborhoods.”

Carson added that the audio system is also ineffective at alarming the deaf and pedestrians wearing headphones.

“I am so glad that this legislation has created a dialogue both in Newport and in the State House. I hope for a productive conversation at the hearing Tuesday. I am optimistic that we can find a way to keep pedestrians and bikers safe while residents can enjoy peace and quiet in their own homes.”

The legislation (2018-H 7087), which Representative Carson introduced Jan. 10, would prohibit the use of the system in residential neighborhoods. It would not affect its use in other areas.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.