Emergency Providence/Bristol Ferry (Seastreak & RIDOT)

ALRIGHTY! I was NOT anticipating this when a national emergency was declared over the I-195 bridge closure in December. Well, given it just got announced that it’s ending in two weeks due to low ridership, I decided, at 4:15 AM on the day of writing this (1/6/24), that I’m going to ride this ferry and see what it’s like. With that in mind, let’s look at the ferry, shall we?

Yep. There’s a shuttle.

Now, I WOULD ride the shuttle for the full experience. However, there’s one issue with that: I’m doing this on a Saturday – and the shuttles don’t run on weekends. This means, I’m at the behest of bus routes 35, 60, and 78 on the Providence end (& even then, the closest stop is right before I-195), and route 60 on the Bristol end. Yikes. That translates to a combination of (presumably) uncoordinated headways of 30, 90, and 45 minutes on one end, and 30 minutes on the other (fortunately it’s one route in Bristol!). Anyhow! I got on the second run of the 13, went all the way into Providence, and to the ferry dock. In terms of what awaited me? It’s basically the Newtonville of ferry docks: very barebones and next to I-195. Eww. 1/10 rating from me.

Yep. That’s the entire ferry terminal. Quite sad, to be real.

Upon boarding the ferry though, it was quite nice actually. You have restrooms, a lot of seating, provisions for food amenities (not used), and even television service on the boat I rode down to Bristol. In terms of comfort vs. things that I normally ride, I’d have to actually say this is about on par with an Amfleet. For context, I LOVE the Amfleets with how comfy the seats are and the legroom. Honestly, I’m not sure if the Ventures out west can beat them. Eventually, we got moving and were on the high seas for about 35-40 minutes, before we docked at Bristol’s ferry terminal. So, how was that?

I was the only one up here.
The Bristol terminal

The Bristol terminal was a different story. It’s a small parking lot, yes, but you also have an actual park in the area as well, with benches. You also have shopping in the area as well, which is nice. No sheltered waiting room, though, but meh. Rating: 4/10.

A park and the marina
Some shopping
Local charter tour bus
My return trip

So, why is RIDOT canning the ferry service? Well, I’ve seen many arguments online with people saying “it’s a waste of taxpayer money” and all that usual bullshit. And, to an extent, I might be inclined to agree. However, just saying that alone and not doing an autopsy isn’t good enough for me. While local ridership exists, it’s currently just too niche a thing for more people to use regularly. For one, it just isn’t convenient in comparison to RIPTA’s bus route 60. Take a look at this.

Would “paddle” be appropriate, like with bus runs?

There’s a 3 hour gap midday for servicing and the crew to take their breaks. I mean, I understand that these people need to take breaks legally (& I can’t fault them for wanting one), and the boats need to be serviced occasionally, but there really ought to be some way to mitigate the gap in service. Never mind this, it’s the middle of winter. Only the bravest of souls are going to sail the high seas at this time of year. And, most of all, PVD-Bristol isn’t really that big a commuter market. I mean, if anything, PVD-Bristol is a spring/summer/fall route, not something you’d run in the winter. Seriously, RIDOT, I’d WANT to ride this more if it ran in the spring or summer!!! Even if fares were $4 or smth, and it were under the RIPTA umbrella! Actually, if anything, I’d argue a case where RIPTA gets proper funding AND additional funding to take on the state’s ferry network, presumably contracted out to Seastreak. Also, shoutout to the friendly people working the boats at Seastreak.

With all that in mind, I’d actually have to give the ferry service itself an 8/10. I mean, it’s reasonably fast, or at least time-competitive with RIPTA’s 60, and the Bristol terminal is in a central location. The biggest issues here boil down to the Providence terminal basically being another Newtonville, and with minimal bus connections (& no references to the ferry on said buses). The midday gap is also bleh, I get it exists for servicing reasons, but it hinders the usability of the ferry. Overall though, it’s pretty good, and I wish RIDOT wasn’t prematurely killing it off.

Rating: 8/10

The Mt. Hope Bridge!

CCRI Warwick (RIPTA)

Well, THIS was unexpected! On the way to my doctor’s appointment today, I needed to pass through CCRI to change buses. And, wouldn’t ya know it, the bus terminal is OPEN now! WOOHOO!!! So, let’s take a quick look at it, shall we?

That’s one ugly building!

So, located on the eastern end of the campus before the parking lot, adjacent to the Bobby Hackett Theater, is where you have the bus terminal. It’s not a lot, but you have four bus stops, with the routes sorted by destination and general routing. There’s a couple of wastebaskets, and a few picnic tables presently. Shelters aren’t present yet, but from what I understand, the shelters (presumably a redesign from the standard RIPTA shelter) will be in for January ’24. There’s also a copious amount of parking, but, you also have to remember: this isn’t a park & ride, but rather a community college – and parking here is NOT a good idea, as the lot fills up quickly during academic terms (Labor Day-Christmas and Martin Luther King Day-Memorial Day). Plus, there’s talks that CCRI is planning to implement parking permits. So, if you’re not a student, tough luck. But, if you ARE a student (like I formerly was), then you’re in luck AND could theoretically park and ride here.

Some greenery!

Now, about them bus stops. How are they sorted? Are they willy-nilly like Kennedy Plaza seemingly is? Actually….no! Each stop (presently) serves three routes, as follows:
– South County (14 and 66 southbound stops here, as does the 16)
– Providence via Warwick Mall (21, 22, and 30)
– Crosstown (13, 23, and 29)
– and Providence via I-95 (14 and 66 northbound. The 242 Flex also stops here.)

Overall, fairly easy to remember. There were some learning pains for both passengers and operators, but fortunately there were RIPTA personnel onsite to help. And, all this opened just in time for the fall semester at CCRI to start as well. Neat!

A zip-tied bus stop sign (though I’m sure something more permanent will be installed)

The good: It’s at CCRI, being a major ridership generator, so why not have a proper bus terminal? There’s amenities inside the college as well. However…

The bad: Use of said amenities inside the college are at the discretion of the college itself. Furthermore, there’s no shelter presently. It’s also not very walkable…, though, it wouldn’t be too bad if the college set aside a small amount of parking for RIPTA commuters (maybe with a special permit in coordination with RIPTA?)

Nearby points of interest: Nothing outside the college campus, but the buses can get you elsewhere!

Transit connections:
RIPTA (13, 14, 16, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, 66, 242 Flex)

Overall, in spite of the lack of shelter, it’s still an upgrade in its present form, since the last stop had NOTHING at all and was just a sole shelter. You didn’t even have bus berths! So, as such, I’m giving the terminal its score on the condition of a bus shelter being installed by January ’24.

Rating: 8/10

Talbot Ave. (MBTA)

Next stop: Talbot Avenue! Is there even anything different about this one? Well…..


So, the platform is pretty much a bogstandard Fairmount Line affair: some sheltered bits, a CharlieCard reader, history, wastebaskets (don’t forget to pitch in!), and some benches along with a yellow dot matrix sign. There’s also an anemic (even for Fairmount Line standards!) amount of parking, and a kiss & ride area on the inbound side. And, I think I might’ve also seen some poop, needles, and probably even some mildew here too. (yeah, I’m not sure about the mildew, but I definitely do recall seeing needle caps and some dookie). Either way, it’s not exactly the safest-feeling place to wait (given an emergency call box was knocked over didn’t inspire any confidence either), but it’s not too terrible though. Oh yeah, the 22 and 45 stop here too. Neat.

Platform shot!
The mostly barren platform with the tracks towards Newmarket and Uphams Corner
The (VERY LONG) ramp!
Yep. That’s it for parking.
Bus shelter!
There’s also a bench halfway up the ramp!
Another entrance to a more residential area
Another ramp, though not as long
A hi-rail truck?!
Talbot Avenue at street level

The good: Despite being in not the best of neighborhoods, it actually feels pretty peaceful. Like, I genuinely think I’d be fine chilling here railfanning for an entire afternoon despite the less than pleasant nature of the general area. Furthermore, there’s some bike racks as well (but no Pedal & Park sadly!), and the bus connections are relatively frequent.

The bad: POOP, NEEDLES, AND MILDEW! (okay I’m not so sure about the mildew, but definitely poop and needle caps!) So uh, watch your step here! (even though the needle caps were entirely in mulch beds). Furthermore, no stairs? I know it’s weird but stairs would be a lot faster than a long ramp.

Nearby points of interest: There’s a park!

Transit connections:
Commuter Rail (Fairmount)
MBTA bus (22, 45)

Yeah, it’s probably the 2nd-biggest stinker after Readville. Just be mindful of any needles though, please!

Rating: 6/10

204 Flex (Westerly, for real this time!)

Alrighty, so what do you do if you fail to catch the 95X in the early morning and can’t afford $8 for an Amtrak ticket? Why, you ride this Flex, of course! Let’s take a look.


Now, unlike my last failed attempt at riding this route (which spawned an anger-filled Karen-grade rant), I boarded the bus at Westerly Station, being one of three bus connections there. And, to be absolutely sure, I confirmed with the operator that she was going to Salt Pond Plaza (she was). So, I boarded the bus, scanned my Wave e-card, and she floored it to our first timepoint.

It’s kinda rural!
Oh fucking aye, it’s US-1. And yes, we went express briefly down Rte. 78.

So, after going down Oak Street and express onto Route 78, we turned down Route 1, passing by Westerly Airport, which was essentially your run of the mill stroad. Yawn. But wait, eventually we made it to our first timepoint OH COME ON!!!

The airport!

Ugh, of course WAL*MART would turn up on my day off from work! Well, whatever, we deviate into Walmart, and some lady comes hobbling towards the Flex van thinking it was hers. However, the operator opens the door, informs the lady “no, the other driver is your trip, and it’s 2:11 currently.” Nevertheless, after a short dwell, we continued on and we started expressing down US-1. And it went on. And on. And on. Eventually, after about 40 minutes in the woods, we made it to the Stedman Center in South Kingstown, and after a 5 minute dwell, we continued on to Salt Pond Plaza, finishing the route.

Can’t flex that!
Welcome to the Middle East?

Now, as a fun aside, there’s all sorts of weird place names down here. Of course, you have Weekapaug, Misquamicut is known for the beach, Ninigrit (DO NOT MISPRONOUNCE!!!) and Burlingame Parks, a road named Kings Factory Road, Breachway (the hell is a Breachway?), Kenyon, Carolina, Shannock, and Perryville. Who the hell is Perry, and since when did we have the northern terminus of MARC’s Penn Line?

Now, some of these can be attributed to the various Native American tribes that historically inhabited the area. However, the others? I got nothing.

We made it!

Of course, we make it to the Stedman Center, and I’ll have to concede: this is a contender for the sorriest bus shelter on all of RIPTA. I just can’t help but think that. But, we stuck for a few minutes, and pressed on to Salt Pond Plaza, ending the run and marking the final scheduled RIPTA route I’ve yet to ride, ridden.

oh dear god no
thank god the expressing is over
Two different bus types: a 40ft and a cutaway van!

The good: It’s important to Westerly residents and, to an extent, a lifeline! Furthermore, it serves pretty much the entire town (save for the rich NIMBY bits), so there’s that.

The bad: As I said in my anger-filled rant, if the Flex van nopes out or no-shows, you’re kinda fucked. However, to be fair to RIPTA, I should’ve also dialed ahead of time and placed a reservation, so to be fair I kinda was taking on that risk.

Nearby points of interest: Most of Westerly! Also, the Stedman Center & Salt Pond Plaza!

Rating: 3/10 (originally 2.5/10)

Yeah, not much of a rating boost now that I actually rode it, and I still stand by it being better as a supplement to a fixed route. And, with that, I’ve finally rode all RIPTA routes with a schedule attached to it.

Pawtucket/Central Falls (MBTA/RIPTA)

Wait, there’s ANOTHER MBTA opening?! Well shit, let’s look at it at the crack of dawn! I mean, if I can do the GLX where pretty much all the cards were stacked against me, I can pretty much do anything. Besides, it’s been pretty much exactly 42 years since an MBTA train last stopped here. So, let’s look at it, shall we?


So, I Ubered up to the area at around 3 AM with a 3:30 arrival. It was downpouring, so being able to take refuge under the overpass was a godsend. Speaking of which, the entire station was well lit, I almost mistook it for a sporting arena for a moment! Parking? 200 whole spaces! Add that to not one but TWO dropoff areas and a busway, and you have a decent enough bus terminal. But they had to screw up with two things: There’s no heating AND there’s no bathrooms or indoor area! Like, dammit RIDOT, why did you have to shaft RIPTA like that?! Also, engineered out bathrooms?! WHO DOES THAT?! Did I mention bus connections?! You get 10 of them. TEN! ALL the Pawtucket-area routes stop here!

That’s a LOT of lighting!
Looking southbound with a very enthusiastic Miles
And the other way
People from Keolis were giving out swag, including buttons, luggage tags, and umbrellas
Redundant elevators, in normal MBTA fashion
The mezzanine

Alrighty, so the Commuter Rail section of the station itself is pretty decent. Full level boarding, Helvetica signage, an updated system map (with the South Coast extension, woohoo!), and redundant elevators that didn’t smell like urine but probably do now. There’s also departure boards, something lacking at T.F. Green and Wickford. Art is present in the form of a yarn ball, which represents the area’s historical ties to the textile industry. And, lastly, although the station has three tracks, the third track is just a freight siding that never sees passenger use, so the platform setup is more akin to New London’s in that you have a side and island, but the island is essentially just another side platform with one side blocked off.

The ball
The skeleton of the old station looms ahead…
And looking towards Providence and Wickford!
First train!

From here, we had a small gathering, mainly consisting of a few people including Dylan, Miles (stay tuned for the video on this station!), Daria, Jordan (who had to head back up to Boston shortly after returning), Zoe, and a few others whose names slip past my exhausted mind (I barely got sleep and am running on a 2hr power nap right now!), and we proceeded onwards. Initially, the plan was we’d get off at Attleboro, but instead we shifted to Mansfield. So, we took #800 out to Mansfield, got off, waited in the miserable weather, and got on #801 back to Pawtucket. By the time we got back, and we heard the “train approaching” warning going off (which, at the time, were not in the most functional of states), we saw an Acela coming through to which we gave some fanfare for being the first Amtrak train to express through. After all this, several of us left and it boiled down to six of us, including Miles, Dylan, and I, and we got breakfast at the Modern Diner, and after which everyone aside from Miles and Dylan left. Here’s that video, by the way!

Empty comet car
See ya!
Mansfield feels like the nighttime version of the first level of Tony Hawk’s Underground
First Amtrak of the day!
See ya! – and Channel 10!
South Coast extension!

The good: It’s right near the downtown of two MAJOR, and very populated cities! There hasn’t been revenue service around here since the ’80s when the old station was pretty much abandoned by the MBTA, and RIDOT finally replaced it – 17 years after building a rail yard nearby for Keolis. And, for what it’s worth, it’s decent but it’s got one MAJOR flaw that prevents it from being more than an above average station. Plus, you have all of RIPTA’s Pawtucket-area routes, and weekend service on the MBTA too! It’s hella more than Wickford! And, if this was my first impression of Rhode Island, after living in Boston or wherever else, I’d say this place would make a pretty good first impression. You also have a small commuter lot, 200 spaces, for what it’s worth.

The bad: Remember when I said there’s one major flaw? Yeah, it’s the bathrooms and lack of an indoor waiting area. Sure, the shelters could be rectified with heating, and if I remember someone from RIPTA said they’d be looking into installing heaters, but the fact RIDOT valued out bathrooms and indoor waiting areas is HORRIBLE. What were they thinking?! And it’s a major terminal for buses, too!
(POST EDIT: Apparently even the Commuter Rail part got value engineered to hell! There were plans for two additional tracks so that Amtrak trains can express, but RIDOT really said “nope!” Stuff like this is probably why the Providence Line is neutered, and that’s not considering the lack of electrified tracks in Attleboro, Warwick, and North Kingstown!)

Nearby points of interest: You’ve got Slater Mill and the various local-owned shops of Pawtucket and Central Falls! Hasbro HQ isn’t too far, either. If you’re like Miles and Jackson and enjoy diners, you’ve also got the Modern Diner, which has a streamlined design (apparently the last of its kind?!), and even that aside they have pretty decent food. Just don’t play around near the Wyatt Detention Center. A ticket machine for RIPTA and the Commuter Rail would be nice too.

Overall, it’s a very, VERY good station for what it is. Yes, it’s majorly lacking and the bathrooms are just porta-toilets (which, I don’t count), but for what it does have, it’s a pretty good station with a mix of foamer potential, bus service, WEEKEND SERVICE (*cough unlike Wickford*), and decent geography near two major town centers. And, for that, I still think it’s worthy of a high rating, but not a 9 or 10.

Rating: 7.5/10

And below are some foamer shots I got over the course of the morning!

Same train, but the ass!
The dignitary train!
Oh, hi!
And leaving. Oh look, foamers.
And another one!
A Regional crests the bend
The ribboncutting ceremony!
Well that’s a freakin’ lie!
And another one!
Overhead Acela!
Another P&W!
The ass of that train
Overhead Regional!