Ah, this is a good one. So many have written, but none have actually ridden it….until now. Today’s route is RIPTA’s 10X.
How did this even begin? It all started with my 12X post and when I shared it in the Miles in Transit Discord server. All was well, until the following was posted.
I wasn’t one to back away from a good challenge, so I accepted. So, what exactly was I working with? My options were either the 7:10am trip inbound, or the 5:11pm trip outbound from Kennedy Plaza. Now, while the PM trip would’ve been easier (and cheaper!) to do, I challenged myself and did the AM trip instead. This meant:
1. buying an Uber ride to the Chopmist Hill fire station
2. getting there early enough to NOT miss the bus. Remember, this was the only bus and I did NOT want to be stranded here!
3. most importantly, waking up early. For this, I woke up at 5am.
My actions resulted in a $24 (+$8 tip, because the driver deserved it for even bothering with such a long ride) Uber ride, me waking up at 5am, and being at the Chopmist Hill fire station by 6:40am with half an hour to spare.
Okay, with all the prologue stuff aside, here’s the part y’all were waiting for: the route itself.
So we begin the trip at the aforementioned sign, at the Chopmist Hill fire station (which is apparently a park & ride? Nothing here seems to suggest it, although most people used another stop just ahead as the P&R). Not much here, just a sleepy volunteer fire station in the middle of nowhere. It was here that the bus driver, whose first time it was driving the route, asked the only other guy waiting and I, “Is this how they usually pull in?” when she banged a u-ey into the station. I explained that I didn’t know as I usually don’t ride the 10X, while the other guy said they start at the senior center up ahead and pick people up first. (She didn’t)
We continue down Chopmist Hill Rd. and reach the Scituate Senior Center. It was here that pretty much everyone else got on, and they would stick around for the whole route. Overall, about 5 people. We kept going straight until eventually we reached Danielson Pike. From here, we turned right and it was woodlands ’til the cows came home.
From here, we booked it down Danielson Pike. There wasn’t much to write home about, although we DID cross over the Scituate Reservoir here. It was on this section that another guy got on, but he would get off before the Downcity Loop.
Soon enough, we were in the village of North Scituate. It’s largely a quaint little town center with historical-looking buildings and a gas station. The Scituate Art Festival is also held here every Columbus Day weekend. But, just as fast as we were entering North Scituate, we were out of it.
From here, it was mostly forests with the occasional house on Danielson Pike. Nothing to ring home about. Eventually, though, we made it to Hartford Ave. and US-6. It was still largely forest from here out too, but with patches of homes, businesses, and undeveloped or dilapidated properties.
After what seemed like forever, we eventually reached I-295 and the driver asked “Do I turn onto the highway here or further up?”, presumably for reassurance. Fortunately the other passengers told her it was further up. Now, why DIDN’T we go express here?! The 9X does, so why not the 10X too? Well, there’s an answer, in the form of the 2013 comprehensive operational analysis. Back then, when the route was still numbered the 90S, RIPTA proposed two things. One of them was to rename the route to the 10X, the other was to re-route it so that it ran local through Johnston to an extent. Both of these moves were in the name of increasing ridership, however the numbers don’t really reflect that from what I can find.
So, as opposed to going express here like the 9X does, we kept pressing on into Johnston proper. We kept going down Hartford Ave. and past a whole lot of businesses through what felt like RI’s version of Breezewood Junction. It was here that one guy got off. We did, however, get to skip the Market Basket deviation that the 28 does.
From here, we pressed on further until we reached US-6 again. This time, however, WE WENT EXPRESS HOLY CRAP! From here, we booked it down US-6 and through the 6/10 Connector…..only to take the Dean St. exit for some reason. WHY? The highway itself was mixed, between bisecting parklands and urban areas. From here, we took a left onto Dean St., and a right onto Exchange St. and under the Convention Center. We then popped out at Sabin St. and did the Downcity Loop, with most people getting off at the Turk’s Head building, while I was the last person, getting off at Kennedy Plaza.
– It serves a grossly underserved part of Rhode Island. Like, this part of the state doesn’t even have FLEX, that’s how underserved it is.
– It allows for express commuting options (albeit limited, I’ll get to that in a bit) from Scituate and Johnston
– Two trips TOTAL? We’re talking one inbound and one outbound. Not even the 95X is this limiting. Hell, not even Westerly is this screwed over because at least they have Flex, for all the flaws that Flex has.
Nearby points of interest:
I suppose there’s North Scituate…..albeit with no way back. There’s also Atwood Ave. and Hartford Ave. in Johnston between 295 and US-6, with all its shops. But c’mon man, just use the 28 instead for access there.
Overall, it’s honestly not THAT bad a route, all things considered. You’re talking a rural route, where barely anyone lives, and where most people own cars at that. And for what it is, there were about 5 others total on my bus ride, which isn’t really that bad. 2019 ridership data has the 10X as RIPTA’s least-ridden fixed route at 20 people each weekday on average, and I’d believe it. However, there are some major flaws with it. Namely, I’d add additional trips, maybe even a round trip, in the morning and throughout the day. Furthermore, as much as Flex is flawed, would it hurt to at least give the rural backbone a Flex zone or two beyond Pascoag? But nevertheless, this route, while flawed with the sole trip each way, is still passable to a degree. At least it’s scenic though.