12X (Arctic/RI-117 Express)

Alright, first RIPTA route review! And it’s an express route! What do we have here? Oh, just an express route from Arctic Village in West Warwick to downtown Providence. Alright, let’s take an in-depth look at this route.

Here comes the bus! A 29ft Gillig BRT.

We board the bus at Arctic Village in West Warwick, just past Main & Washington St.’s, across from CVS. For the time, it was just me until we reached West Warwick Ave. and Centerville Road. From there, another person got on the bus.

After that, we made a left turn onto Centerville Road and it quickly turned into a mix of woodlands and housing. It wasn’t long until we were going right across Bald Hill Road, continuing down Centerville Road for another five or so minutes. After passing some housing and an apartment complex, we reached the route’s other namesake. This is what causes the route to be drawn out in a weird way. Allow me to explain.

My not so good attempt at taking a picture of the outside from the seat across the window.

The RI-117 Park & Ride is in the middle of a divided highway interchange. This means that it’s essentially one-way. So, what was RIPTA’s solution? Easy. They made the 12X go in a circle, with inbound trips going down Main St. and Centerville Road, while outbound trips go through Toll Gate Road and Providence Street. With this in mind, it doesn’t take a valedictorian to see that anyone who gets on/off anywhere other than downtown Providence, the park & ride, or Arctic Village is essentially only getting one-way service.

The RI-117 Park & Ride lot

Anyways, moving right along. We sat at the park & ride for about five minutes, waiting for a group of people to get on from their cars. After that, we went express down the interstate. The scenery was predominantly woodlands, as we jaunted past 295, the Airport Connector, and RI-37. This continued until Jefferson Blvd., where it became very suburban very quick. Soon enough after that, we were in Providence and it got more urbanized. We were then dumped out of the highway onto Memorial Boulevard. From here, the bus then turned left onto Exchange Street and then left again onto Exchange Terrace. This would mark the end of the journey for me. However, the route also includes the Downcity Loop. These stops are the Convention Center, Lasalle Square, and a few spots along Empire and Weybosset Streets. Finally, the trip ends at the Turk’s Head building in the middle of downtown.

The good:
– Direct connection to Providence at peak hours

The bad:
– Local section in Warwick/West Warwick is essentially one-way, due to the aforementioned P&R location. But hey, at least Providence St. is served by the 23, with a small section of RI-117 being served by the 16!

Overall, it’s not that bad a route, all things considered. It could be better, in the event RIPTA figures out how to make the local sections bidirectional. A midday run round-trip wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. Definitely a nice to have since the 13’s express section to Providence got axed around 10 years ago. Granted, demand isn’t that high normally, with this trip in particular having around 6 people, but I have been on runs with half a bus full of people, which is something on a commuter-oriented route in an age where working from home is more commonplace than before. As for official statistics, the route netted 59 weekday passengers as of 2019, making it the 4th least-used fixed route in the whole system. As for personal changes, I’d try to make the route bidirectional somehow (likely via an effective U-turn in Apponoag).
Rating: 7/10

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