Alrighty! No, I haven’t ridden this route, however I’ve been around the Flex zone more times than I can count. That said, this is the 242 Flex.
Alright, so the Flex zone, as the map above describes, has no scheduled stops. That means, you have to call in a day in advance and schedule a pickup and dropoff. That ALSO means, if your destination is unserved by RIPTA (think: the park & ride lot off RI-117 outside rush hour, or anywhere on Wakefield Street between Phenix and Natick), then you better have scheduled a second pickup and dropoff. There were proposals to pilot an on-demand program, but alas it didn’t come to fruition. Now, COME ON RIPTA! WHY?! Even GATRA is better in this regard! Like, I get how it wouldn’t run on weekends, but maybe weekday ridership wouldn’t be so hindered if it was on-demand or had scheduled stops. Alright.
The good: It covers Warwick around the malls and CCRI, along with West Warwick and some of Coventry!
The bad: The map is outdated. Like, grossly outdated. I wouldn’t expect it to have the summer ’22 changes, but it doesn’t even reflect the fall ’21 changes! The 29 doesn’t go to Warwick Mall (or West Warwick, for that matter!), and the 13 was rerouted to CCRI instead of Warwick Mall. Hell, the 14, 22, and 30 were all rerouted to CCRI as well! Plus the 16 and 23 makes this Flex even LESS useful. Now, that’s not to say it’s fully useless. There’s some spots, especially along Centerville Road, that are only regularly served by the Flex. Also, we really have to call a day ahead? Why isn’t it on-demand, or with scheduled stops? Hear me out:
Why don’t we add scheduled stops, making the 242 into a circulator route? The circulator would have stops ordered as such: CCRI (departure), RI Mall, Warwick Mall, Arctic Center (via Providence St./Main St.), Cowessett Corners, Market Basket, and back to CCRI via College Hill Road (arrival), then go lay over. It’d look like this:
This, inherently, though has its flaws. The biggest one, that I can think of, is that the schedule would have to be padded to Hell to account for any custom deviations that riders would make. Plus, the mere size of the 242 would make scheduled stops anywhere a tricky situation. Although, given the mere size of the Flex, maybe splitting up might work? I genuinely don’t have any good ideas that would allow for scheduled stops.
Nearby points of interest: West Warwick, eastern Coventry to name some. You also have Bald Hill Road and CCRI, and the malls. There’s also NEIT, which used to be a Flex-exclusive, but I imagine the 16 would cannibalize any ridership that generated.
Overalll, as I said in the 282’s post, I like the concept of Flex. However, what irks me is that one has to call ahead of time since there’s no on-demand part of the system, and no scheduled stops in this zone. And, as such, I’d have to give it a low score mostly from no on-demand service. Ridership, like mostly any Flex route, isn’t good, with only 29 daily riders as of 2019.
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