RIPTA will discontinue express beach bus service this summer

PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – After more than 20 years, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is eliminating its seasonal express bus service that linked several inland communities across the state directly to the beach.

The reason, according to RIPTA, is low attendance and lack of staff.

“Last year, there were an average of nine passengers per trip,” RIPTA spokesperson Cristy Raposo Perry told 12 News in an email.

It costs RIPTA about $85,000 to ride the express bus service each year, according to Perry.

The Beach Express Bus Service provided direct access to state beaches for six communities: Central Falls, Cranston, North Providence, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket.

Perry said the express bus service had limited travel times and only offered trips to and from Scarborough, Salty Brine and Roger Wheeler state beaches.

“The beach service we offer now allows passengers to come and go as they please throughout the day,” Perry continued.

RIPTA has a number of routes that can bring Rhode Islanders to and from the beach year-round, although some require passengers to change buses.

Joe Cole, vice-president of the union that represents the majority of RIPTA employees, is worried about how the public will react to the change.

“Three buses to the beach,” Cole said of one of the routes. “How long are you going to stay [at the beach] before having to take three buses to get home? »

Perry acknowledged that the majority of RIPTA routes require passengers to transfer to a central hub to get to their final destination.

“While we sympathize with families who have to make multiple connections to get to the beach, we are unable to accommodate this special extra service,” she said.

Cole argues that now is not the right time to make this change.

“Gas is hovering around $5 a gallon,” he said. “We have people in some low-income areas who rely on buses to get where they need to go.”

Cole remains hopeful that there is still time to change RIPTA’s mind. He believes that if more people knew about the service, more people would use it.

“We are the Ocean State,” Cole explained. “If we can’t go to the beach, it doesn’t make sense.”

Below are several RIPTA routes that Rhode Islanders can take to get to the beach:

  • Route 68: A new line scheduled to start this summer that will serve First Beach in Newport.
  • Route 69: This route provides access to South County beaches seven days a week and hourly.
    • Passengers from Providence can take Route 66 to URI and transfer to Route 69.
  • Route 14: This route offers year-round regular service on weekdays and limited service on Saturdays from Kennedy Plaza to Narragansett Town Beach.
  • Itinerary 3: This route provides access to Oakland Beach in Warwick seven days a week.
  • Route 54: This route provides access to Lincoln Woods seven days a week.
  • Narragansett/South Kingstown Flex Zone: This route serves the beaches of Narragansett, Roger Wheeler and Salty Brine.
  • South Aquidneck Flex Zone: This route serves Easton’s Beach in Newport Monday through Saturday.

Melvin Z. Madore