204: Westerly Flex

May 2, 2022

After I published yesterday's post on the 95x, I was corrected. I mentioned that Westerly has no other RIPTA connections to the rest of the RIPTA network. Well, there is one more connection - the 204.

The 204 is another one of RIPTA's Flex routes, and operates similar to the 231 that I took a look at in November.

Like all the other the Flex routes, the 204's "route" is actually just a service area, this time around Westerly. There are some notable places in the area as well, and these actually have scheduled time points, which means that anyone can board the 204 without reservation. These are at the Westerly Amtrak station, the Walmart, and two other places that I'll bring up later. Also in the zone are a couple more grocery stores and the Westerly State Airport (which does have commercial flights, but only to Block Island).

What are those other two time points? Those are the Stedman Center in South Kingstown and the Salt Pond Plaza in Narragansett. So that Westerly to Narrgansett connector I suggested kind of exists already. It's just hidden in the 204's schedule. It's not even on the map because just these two locations are served by the 204, not anywhere between these places and Westerly. Come on RIPTA, put a dashed line of something to show that the 204 runs, but doesn't stop between Westerly and Narragansett. At Salt Pond, riders can transfer to the 14, 66, and 203 to travel around Narragansett and the rest of Rhode Island.

The schedule, uhh, I don't like this. I mean, it's a Flex route, what else could I expect? I can't even tell how many trips there are on this thing. Is it three? Four? You know what? It runs. The first trip leaves the train station at 7:55 am and goes all the way to Salt Pond for 9:00. More trips leave from the train station at 11:20 am and 2:00 pm and take 50 - 55 minutes to reach Salt Pond. There's also a scheduled pick up at 3:20 pm at Walmart and 6:25 pm at the train station. I'm going to assume that these are just pick ups in case anyone wants to go anywhere within the zone, and don't actually run the fixed route portion.

For ridership, this is a Flex route, so it's not too popular. However, this is the second most popular of all of them, only behind the 281. The 204 gets an average of 67 riders per day.

Final thoughts - the 204 basically fits the definition for a Flex route. There's no other fixed routes running through it, and it offers connections to other transit routes (some more advertised than others). I wish they better advertised the connection to Narragansett, at least put it on the system map!