Ah, the 31. But, what’s the “Brewery Parkade” that the route terminates at? And what kind of environments do we have with this route? Let’s find out.
The journey begins at Kennedy Plaza’s D stop. Initially I was going to go on route 6 (Prairie Ave./CCRI/R.W. Park) but this bus happened to come first, and the sky wasn’t looking pretty. This also happened to be the first day I utilized public transit without a mask (mandates lifted per Florida judge’s order), and it felt weird and liberating in a way. However, I’ll address that at the end. The ride began by going through downtown, going down Washington St. and Westminster St. after crossing the interstate. However, from here, we quickly split off from the 17 and 19, and turned down Cranston St. Also, whose idea was it to build Central and Classical High Schools next to each other? They’re both literally owned by the school district!
By and large, Cranston St. was mostly urban businesses with the occasional multi-family house. There was also a lot of pedestrian activity, especially the further we went down. Soon enough, after passing some businesses and houses, we passed A CASTLE?! WHAT?! SINCE WHEN WERE WE IN EUROPE?! Just kidding, but it may as well have been one. The name of the building? The Cranston St. Armory.
From here, it was still urban businesses for what seemed like a while. Most of them also appeared to likely be minority owned. So, if you like supporting minority-owned businesses, you’ll be right at home on Cranston Street. Soon enough, though, we reached the intersections with Huntington Ave., Niantic Ave., Garfield Ave., and the overpass with RI-10, as well as the Northeast Corridor. There’s a 7/11 and a “donut void” (as my girlfriend calls it), aka the Cranston Police HQ. Yup, we’re finally in Cranston. We took a left turn onto Garfield Ave., passed the police station, a charter school, a Texas Roadhouse, and a Wendy’s. Our trip ended at Brewery Parkade, soon enough.
So, what IS the Brewery Parkade? It’s nothing special, just a shopping center. On one side of Garfield Ave., it’s a Lowe’s. On the other, it’s a plaza consisting of, primarily, a Stop & Shop (fun fact: I got my COVID vaccine here!) and a Burlington Coat Factory. Also in that Stop & Shop plaza, there’s a GameStop, a few clothing stores, the shell of a former Dollar Tree, and a gym. Historically speaking, this area used to be the site of a Narragansett Brewery, hence the name “Brewery Parkade”.
– It bisects a heavily populated, low-income neighborhood
– It runs often! Seriously, this route is scheduled to run once every 15(!) minutes during the day on weekdays until the evening, then every 25 minutes. Saturdays and Sundays have (approximately) 20 minute service.
– It’s well planned out! See the above points, plus the layover time being sufficient in case of bad traffic (as is very much possible, though wasn’t the case on my particular trip).
– The fact the termini are across the street from each other (Lowe’s for outbound, Stop & Shop for inbound)
Nearby points of interest: Brewery Parkade! There’s several clothing stores, the biggest being Burlington Coat Factory. There’s also Lowe’s, GameStop, and Stop & Shop! Along Cranston St. are a bunch of locally owned businesses (probably minority-owned too, if that matters to you) and the Cranston St. Armory. In downtown proper, there isn’t much to ring home about, though.
Overall, it’s probably the best route I’ve written about up to now. It’s short, sweet, and to the point, and it gets the job done pretty damn well. Hell, I’d even make it a candidate for electrification. There, I said the E-word. Why not give this route BEBs after the Xcelsiors are given to the R Line? But alas, RIPTA (in their not always infinite wisdom) decided that the Aquidneck routes were worth electrifying next. Anyways, enough of that. The route is definitely among the best that RIPTA has to offer. It’s short, direct, and serves a high density, low income neighborhood. That terminus, though, does irritate me, as car drivers oftentimes act entitled. Ridership on this thing also showed that it’s among the best, with people getting on and off throughout the trip. It also happened to be the 6th most utilized route as of 2019, clocking in at 2150 average passengers a day, with the 60, 92, 20, 1, and R Line beating it out in ridership.
Now, I’m going to address the whole mask thing, just in case anyone raises concerns. No, I didn’t wear a mask. RIPTA doesn’t require masks anymore. And lastly, I’m not stupid enough to ride public transit while sick. If I were, I would’ve (at minimum) masked up out of courtesy for everyone, or stayed home entirely. I did, however, carry one anyways, just in case it became necessary.