19 (Plainfield/Westminster/Walmart Cranston)

Ah, Walmart. The iconic big box store of the US, and a cancer tumor upon suburban life and labor movements of all types. So, why the HELL are we talking about them here? Well, there’s a RIPTA bus route that terminates at Walmart in Cranston. Namely, I’m talking about the Plainfield Pike Walmart Supercenter.

The Walmart terminus from inside the bus. It was raining. 🙁

So after I did the 10X, I met up with my friend at Providence Station (post on that coming one of these days) and we decided to go to Walmart in Cranston. So, we did, and we poked around. She happened to have purchased a Dolly Parton DVD and canned corn, while I purchased $10 shovelware and cinnamon-flavored milk. Eventually, the bus pulled up after laying over and we got on. Our journey began with the bus departing 1776 Plainfield Pike by leaving the store, and making a right onto Plainfield Pike.


Plainfield Pike was primarily suburbia, as this was mostly Cranston and Johnston. Some businesses were also mixed in, but nothing to ring home about. Eventually we reached Atwood Ave. and the road became Plainfield Street. We’d then follow the road all the way back to Olneyville, during which it was a mixture of parks, somewhat dense housing, and urban businesses. It was around here that two guys got on the bus and sat near my friend and I, striking a convo with us about raves. I didn’t pay much attention since I never been to any, but my friend was talking to them pretty much the whole time given their background of attending raves.

Atwood Avenue
A house!

Eventually we went under US-6 and soon enough, we were in Olneyville Square. So romantic! This neighborhood has a reputation of not being too terribly good, but in reality it isn’t THE worst. At least it isn’t East St. Louis, IL, if rumors are to be had. Hey, at least there’s a hot weenie joint here!

Family Dollar entering Olneyville

Soon enough, we were back out of Olneyville Square. We ran into some construction relating to the rebuilding of of the 6-10 interchange and nearby overpasses (of which Westminster St. was). From here, we passed some more apartments and urban buildings. From there, we high tailed it into downtown, passing Classical and Central High Schools. Seriously, who thought building two high schools next to each other was a good idea?????

Rhode work ahead.
Some apartments near the intersection of Cranston St.

The trip then ended with us going through downtown proper, and eventually pulling into Kennedy Plaza. Weirdly enough, we were let off at the stop G berth instead of the stop C berth, but that probably boiled down to the driver having to take a bathroom break.

The good:
– The route services a heavily visited major big box store (a Walmart Supercenter)
– The route serves as a lifeline to those who take advantage of the Simmonsville shuttle (due to the lack of an Atwood Ave. crosstown route)
– It services an otherwise unserved part of Providence and Johnston
– Commuter opportunities with the Cranston Industrial Park just past 295

The bad:
– Frequency could be upped a little bit
– Relating to the last point, buses can oftentimes get a little tight in the capacity department

Nearby points of interest:
Walmart! If Walmart isn’t an interest (or you hate the Waltons), there’s also a Dollar Tree in the same plaza. There’s also a park whose name is too long for me to remember. There’s also Olneyville, which to quote my dad’s extended family, “is the perfect honeymoon spot.” But idiot family aside, there’s a hot weenie joint in Olneyville that’s of interest, especially if you’re into exploring the local cuisine of various parts of the US. (of which, I will give Olneyville NYS a 10/10 any day)

Overall, it’s a pretty good route, Walmart opinions aside. It serves an important area of Providence, Cranston, and Johnston and it also runs often (every half-hour). However, I think the route would do better being elevated to “key corridor” status, with the higher frequency to boat as sometimes the bus can be packed. The ridership stats tell a similar story, being the 2nd highest ridership route out of all the non-“key corridor” local routes. I do also like the fact there’s peak-hour commuter options to the nearby industrial park. However, I think a similar treatment should be given to Simmonsville and the shuttle. Maybe axe the shuttle and make every other/third trip deviate to Simmonsville, for one-seat rides to downtown? Also, I know this is unrelated but why isn’t there an Atwood Ave. crosstown route?

Rating: 9/10

Just as a fun aside, this isn’t the Simmonsville shuttle, but rather the Thursday-only Cranston “boomer shuttle” to Walmart.

10X (North Scituate/Chopmist Hill)

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.

The headsign

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.

The challenge

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.

The long, lonely Chopmist Hill Rd. and the sign that marks the beginning of the 10X’s journey

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)

Here comes the bus!
The bus sitting at the side of the road, as the driver’s trying to figure out what to do.
The fire station “park & ride”

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.

A gas station and a run-down sign at the intersection of Chopmist Hill Rd. and Danielson Pike

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.

The Scituate Reservoir

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.

A church!

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.

Undeveloped land
A house and side street

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.

Onramp to I-295

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.

BankRI and a shopping plaza.
Atwood Ave.? More like Breezewood, PA.
Market Basket from a new perspective! But, no front door deviation here!

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.

Some houses and parklands along US-6 and RI-10
A medical building on a shady-feeling street.

The good:
– 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

The bad:
– 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.

Rating: 5/10

21 (Reservoir/Garden City/CCRI)

Ah, my first non-express route review. So, what’s on the docket for today? Oh, RIPTA’s route 21. This route is one I’ve been using for a while, actually, but that’s because of how the routes were before the 2021 service changes. In the before times, when I lived in Warwick, this was (aside from the 62/66) the only bus from CCRI to Providence, as the 22 and 30 didn’t get re-routed until late August ’21. So, likewise, I have a bit of experience with this route. Let’s get into it, shall we?

So we begin our adventure at CCRI’s Warwick campus (which, I might say as a student, REALLY sucks as a bus hub for Warwick/Cranston-based routes as current guidelines prohibit entry without a negative COVID test and/or proof of a booster. This means ‘good luck’ if you need to take a bathroom break while waiting to transfer). COVID policies aside (as of 4/10/22), this building is really friggin’ ugly. Take a look!

Look at it! Ain’t it ugly?!

Anyways, enough of me rambling about how CCRI itself is a bad place for a regional hub. The journey begins with us going around the parking lot and exiting out to East Ave and turning right on Bald Hill Road. However, we have our first deviation on this route – the old RI Mall! For those not from Rhode Island, we like to call places by their old names. So RI Mall? That’s just a Dick’s, Planet Fitness, atHome, and Kohl’s. The other side has Walmart and Burlington Coat Factory. Also in the same general area is BJ’s Brewhouse, a Sketcher’s outlet, a hair salon, and a seafood restaurant by Walmart and Burlington, while the side with Kohl’s has a BJ’s Market (not open as of writing this, supposedly slated to open in May ’22 according to Google Maps) along with Wendy’s and a Chuck E. Cheese. Nevertheless, it was here that quite a few people got on, and for all intents and purposes this stop is essentially a secondary transfer point for the 13, 21, and 29.

A salon and a dress store in a small plaza, with a Chase Bank next to it. Bald Hill is notorious for bad traffic.
A poor-quality shot of the deviation from East Ave., after leaving it.

After that deviation, we’re back on East Ave., heading towards CCRI again but this time we went past the school and over I-95. It was still businesses primarily as we turned left onto Greenwich Ave., joining up with the 22 and 30. No deviations were made into Stop & Shop, and we past a Centerville Bank and Starbucks (not one trying to unionize, that one’s near Market Basket on Bald Hill Rd./Pace Blvd.) and someone got off at the Salvation Army. After this, we past Metro Center Blvd. and crossed I-95 again. From here it was graveyards, a church, some apartment buildings, and the Nylo Hotel. Then, deviation #2.

Warwick Mall, why must your bus stop be SOOOOOOOO FAR AWAY?! Okay, maybe there’s a good chance that’s not on RIPTA but rather property management. But this deviation was a long one due to the awkward positioning of the bus stop. Where is it? Pick your options. Is it:
1. at the front door of Warwick Mall itself
2. at the front door of Target in the back
or 3. all the way in the middle of nowhere near Villa del Rio Apts.?

If you chose #3, you win absolutely nothing! But seriously though, why is this stop all the way in the middle of nowhere? And this used to be the place where the 13, 22, and 30 all terminated before the Fall ’21 service changes! Even worse, the 29 deviated here too! Fortunately, someone at RIPTA’s planning department decided this stop wasn’t good and CCRI was better (plus, from what I understand, CCRI was more eager to work with RIPTA hence why it’s one of their regional hubs). Which, to be fair, despite the major pitfalls with getting into CCRI currently, it’s still a better place than this mess. Anyways, moving right on, we did the long trek back out of the mall and eventually made it back to Greenwich Avenue. From here, we went past a few more shopping plazas, including one that has a Dollar Tree, and took a right onto Mayfield Ave.

A not so good quality picture of an apartment complex

From here, it was primarily residential as we booked it down Mayfield Ave. as the 30 left us. Nobody got on or off here, but eventually the scenery changed…..and kinda drastically, too. Eventually, we reached Howard Ave., where things became slightly unsavory and we reached where the most unsavory of the unsavory people of Rhode Island were housed – the state prison. And yes, we passed where THE worst of the worst are housed, being Harrington Hall. If you know, you know. If you don’t, let’s just say they were involved with “cheese pizza” (for the lack of a better way to put it). Soon enough, as the announcements read the addresses of various buildings in the prison, we eventually reached the DMV and traffic court, being deviation #3.

One of the signs on the prison campus
You don’t wanna end up here.

Of course, after this deviation, we turned onto New London Ave., which quickly became Reservoir Ave. after Garden City. Speaking of which, deviation #4! To get to this one, we went down New London Ave., skipped Chapel Hill and its Shaw’s Market, took a right onto Sockanosset Cross Road, then hooked a left into Midway Road. From here, one person got on, though I must wonder something. Why doesn’t the 21 deviate INTO Garden City? Does it have to do with property management? Anyways, we passed two parking lots, a few apartments, and a third on the other side which RIPTA seems to treat as a park & ride lot, given the QX also stops here. After that, we hooked a left on Garden City Dr., and onto Reservoir Ave.

We would deviate to serve the backside of this shopping center.

From here, it was essentially a clean shot to the end of the section, as we bolted across the road, occasionally stopping to pick someone up. As we booked it, it was basically all businesses and houses on the side streets. However, like all things, it had to come to an end. And for this section, it was with us crossing RI-10 and turning onto Pontiac Ave. However…..

Two shots: A McDonald’s and a CVS on Reservoir Ave.
RI-10. We would then turn onto this very highway.

WE WENT EXPRESS, BABY! The bus turned onto RI-10 and booked it past the industrial sections of Niantic Ave., the shopping sections of Garfield Ave. and the Brewery Parkade, and jaunt over Cranston St. and under Union Ave. and the US/6 interchange. From here, it was quite urban as we booked it through the freeway. We even passed a cannabis farm! Lastly, we exited off the last exit, which dumps all traffic straight into Memorial Boulevard.

Texas Roadhouse off Garfield Ave., and a Wendy’s billboard!
Some old/run down industrial buildings off US-6 in Providence, next to the Northeast Corridor and MBTA tracks

From here, it was just a matter of two or so right turns onto Fulton Street, as the bus dropped us off at Kennedy Plaza. In the meantime, it laid over for a short bit, and then began the return trip.

Kennedy Plaza, home to some interesting figures.

The good:
– It’s the most direct route from CCRI’s Warwick campus to Providence
– It serves some places that benefits greatly from public transit (the prison and the DMV)
– It runs somewhat late into the night (last bus leaves CCRI at 10:15pm on weekdays)

The bad:
– So many deviations. Like, I get how all four or so deviations are ridership generators, but couldn’t the DMV’s at least be cut short by approaching via RI-2 instead of Howard Ave.?
– I get this one isn’t at the fault of RIPTA but it’s still a nitpick I have. What’s with the property developers of the Warwick Mall and Garden City not wanting the 21 (and 22/30 in the Warwick Mall’s case) not being more direct and serving the front door?
– It runs a very real risk of being chronically late due to US-6 being congested during peak hours. Again, not a fault of RIPTA necessarily, but it’s still a problem point that this (and other routes with express sections) has.

Nearby points of interest:
There’s the old RI Mall with the few shops it has, along with Walmart. Warwick Mall is also along the route, with the Apple Cinema that just opened up. The DMV? More a necessary evil. Garden City also exists. Oh, there’s also a hot weiner joint on Reservoir Ave. that’s a 10/10. As for anything that largely sticks out vs. the rest of the route, it’s mainly just Garden City, CCRI, and the malls as well as the DMV and prison.

Overall, it’s a pretty decent route. It’s largely direct, gets the job done, and attracts quite a few riders in my experiences. Ridership is also pretty decent normally, with my trip getting about 10-15 people total. Overall, as of official 2019 statistics, the ridership clocks in at 1287 passengers daily. This could be attributed to the fact it was the only CCRI-Providence route that ran locally until this past fall. However, I do have some criticisms, mostly boiling down to the fact that (in theory, anyways) the DMV deviation could be shortened. Although I do understand that the prison should have bus service and such a reroute would basically be suicidal. One other thing I’d change, given the fact RIPTA treats the Midway Rd. stop (@ Garden City Dr.) as a park & ride, is maybe to have some commuter-oriented route 21 trips in the morning and evening peak hours. Of course, I’d also make non-express 21 trips be more straightforward with Garden City, and move the Warwick Mall stop to the front door of the food court, but that’d involve property management for both (and they probably aren’t willing).
Rating: 6.5/10