87 (Woonsocket Circulator)

Alrighty, another crosstown! This time, it spans the entirity of Woonsocket without leaving. Officially, the route name is “87 (Fairmount/Walnut Hill)”, but the more fitting name is the Woonsocket Circulator, because that’s literally what the 87 is.

The route’s geometry

As a fun tidbit about this route, in all the years of its existence, it has never changed. Well, I lied. The timings changed. But, by and large, the routing hasn’t changed, and to my awareness is probably the only route that’s untouched since its inception in such a manner. Maybe I’m going to be wrong soon and decide to add an extra deviation or two in a year or two’s time. Hopefully not.

The old Woonsocket Station and the Providence & Worcester mainline

This route is a little awkward. Because the 54 ends in the dead center of the route, I had to get off and ride the route all the way to one end. In my case, I got off by High St. and went to Fairmount. From there, I waited out the short layover in the public housing complex and then got the return trip to Diamond Hill Plaza.

One of many housing projects.

Section 8 housing will be a common theme with this route. Starting off, we’re in the Fairmount neighborhood, as we go through a bunch of side streets. Eastbound trips turn up 2nd Avenue and go down River Street, Harris Ave., and Railroad Ave. Westbound trips don’t. You see, whoever designed Woonsocket filled it with one-way streets. And, as such, having sections of the route served by only one direction but not another will also be very common. From here, we turned down Main Street and looped back to head the opposite direction.

A side street
Turning!
More projects, oh my!
See track, think train.
Didn’t cross this one!
Crossing the Blackstone!
The old train station, I think
Market Square!
A park of some kind

From here, we turned down Clinton Street, which ran parallel to Social Street (where westbound trips travel), passing the 54’s and 66X’s termini at John Cumming @ the CCA. We passed by even more projects in the mean time, and turned right down Cumberland Street, then a left down Cass Ave. with Landmark Medical Center being on the same street.

A church!
A parking lot
Look Taser, a Dollar Tree!
More projects?!
Paralleling the Blackstone
A Dunkin’!
Landmark Medical Center

Alright, so we’re on a main road of sorts, what now? Wait, oh COME ON! Another bundle of side streets?! Alrighty. We end up navigating through a narrow residential neighborhood, up Sweet Ave., Elm St., Florida Ave., and even more projects at Morin Heights Boulevard. Fortunately, these were the final projects on the route. It then became Linden Avenue and we eventually reached Diamond Hill Road.

Housing.
The last of the projects
More housing

Wait, it gets better. We deviated. Into a shopping plaza. The name? “Walnut Hill.” That has got to be the most generic name I’ve ever heard for quite literally any place. Put that name in the Midwest, for crying out loud. But, I digress, moving along. Why did we deviate in here, if there isn’t much? I dunno, but someone used the stop at Saver’s, so that counts for something. We then got back on Diamond Hill, and did a double deviation – into a Job Lot (which I think used to be a Walmart) and into Diamond Hill Plaza, where the route ends at Price Rite.

For lease!
Ocean State Job Lot, anyone?
Organize!
Another Tree!

The good: It serves a lot! It’s literally a Woonsocket crosstown, stopping at major locations in town and all the major housing projects! Fortunately, none of them are Chad Brown-levels of bad. You also have downtown Woonsocket and Market Square.

The bad: This isn’t inherently due to RIPTA, but rather the road layouts: it’s very one-way happy. I guess a frequency boost couldn’t hurt, either.

Nearby points of interest: Literally all of Woonsocket, essentially. Especially Market Square, downtown, and Walnut Hill/Diamond Hill plazas.

Overall, I wouldn’t touch this route with routing. It’s good as-is, however I’d probably give a frequency boost since I’ve seen the bus be mostly full for a couple of my trips on it. I mean, as of 2019 it had just over 600 daily riders, but due to a certain incident in 2020, that number isn’t fully accurate to present metrics. But it still gets decent ridership, and is quite possibly the best-routed RIPTA route. As such, it deserves a high rating. However, I’d imagine it becomes a nightmare when there’s events downtown (e.g. Winter Wonderland).

Rating: 8.5/10

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