Normally, you’d have the expresses that run down the interstate for most of the route, or if it’s in no man’s land, it’s for a short while.
Then there’s the 9X.
This route runs for miles and miles into the hinterlands, about as close to the CT/MA tri-point as a RIPTA fixed route will bring you. So, what does this route have in store? Let’s find out.
First off, this route is a bit special in the scheduling department. Every outbound trip has an inbound counterpart just before it. This equals out to three inbound trips in the morning, a midday inbound, and an evening inbound. It also equals two outbounds in the morning, the midday outbound, and three evening outbound. We good?
So, what does the route itself entail? Because we boarded at Kennedy Plaza, we got to skip the whole Downcity Loop bit and pull right out onto US-6. From here, we expressed all the way down US-6 and interstate 295 until we reached US-44 and Smithfield Crossing. However, unlike the 58, we didn’t deviate into it, instead serving the street outside. Also, the morning and evening rush trips deviate into the Citizens Bank call center on Greenwood Ave. But, since I was on a midday trip, the bus didn’t deviate. Eventually we deviated into a Stop & Shop????? Yeah, someone even got on here, which I guess means there is demand for a fixed Chepachet/Pascoag-Smithfield Crossing route.
After the deviation, we turned right and then took another right. This time, it was to serve a small park & ride lot. We did, eventually, make it back to US-44. From here, we just booked it through the sizable village of Greenville, which doesn’t have full bus service for some reason even though it looks big enough for at least an extension of the 58.
Interestingly, the first announcement for each village along the route has the village name announced, with the dot-matrix headsign reading “Welcome to (village name)”. Weird, I don’t think it does it for any other route. In fact, it doesn’t. Nevertheless, we went back into the woods for a bit, passing by an antique mill and an old person home. Eventually, we reached Chepachet.
The route then took a right down RI-102 as we pressed through the woods further. However, instead of going straight, we instead took a right down a random side street then a left down Victory Highway. Eventually, we reached Mapleville Village.
Fortunately, we kept pressing on further. As we turned down Central St., we reached RI-102 again but kept going straight. We’d then be in Harrisville and, soon enough, Pascoag. Among the things found here were the town commons, a library, a gas station, a graveyard, some local businesses, and eventually the route’s terminus at Sayles Avenue.
Now, if you want to know how I got home, see the 282 Flex post.
The good: It serves a grossly underserved part of the state. It’s rural, too, at that! It also gives Burrillville residents a link to downtown directly, and via a partly-on-foot transfer to the 58! There’s also the 282 Flex, which serves as an unofficial Woonsocket link. It’s a shame that the route has a commuter-only oriented schedule, as I’m sure more people would use it if it ran, say, even every hour and 15 minutes (or hour and a half). Hell, even if there was a local variant that ran up to Smithfield Crossing and deviated into the Stop & Shop that ran hourly (and timed in a way to transfer to the 58 comfortably), I’m sure people would use it. I mean, the fact someone got on at Stop & Shop of all places shows there’s some demand for a local Pascoag/Burrillville route.
The bad: I guess the worst thing is….probably the fact that the schedule is a little weird, even verseus the standard express affair (3 one-way trips during the morning and evening peaks). Like, I get it’s commuter-oriented and noone rides the route, though that could be a midday thing (for reference, as of 2019 the route had 93 weekday riders on average). Also, for a commuter route, why does it deviate into a Stop & Shop instead of looping around to get to the park & ride? And, what’s with the lack of park & rides? Still better than the 10X, which claims a freakin’ fire station is a park & ride.
Nearby points of interest: There’s a Stop & Shop in Smithfield, and Smithfield Crossing. Also, the things in Greenville, Chepachet, Mapleville, Harrisville, and Pascoag as well as in between the villages.
Overall, it’s an express route. It does what it needs to. And given where it goes and how often, it does a good job. But, like, there can’t be a fixed route between Pascoag/Burrillville and Smithfield Crossing at least? Or, from Pascoag to Woonsocket? It’s not bad, but it’s a headscratcher. Also, for an express, there’s not many park & rides along it.