Happy anniversary to On the Rails! For the first anniversary, I decided to set aside one particular bus route, RIPTA's 301, which I last briefly touched upon last July in "Expanded Rhode Island Bus?". That was quite a while ago. This blog has evolved way past that. This route is one hell of a problem child.
First off, the name. This is the Rural Ride (or Westerly / Hope Valley Rural Ride for those going off the schedule). This is a unique route for RIPTA. It doesn't terminate or even run through any of RIPTA's main hubs. The route begins at the Westerly train station (also served by the 95x and the 204 Flex route), before going through downtown Westerly and the 204's service area. The route stops at both the Aldi's and Walmart before turning north towards rural southwestern Rhode Island. The route brings RIPTA service to the Bradford, Ashaway, Hopkinton, and Hope Valley before terminating at the Stop and Shop in Richmond. This is the one transit link these places have (besides the 95x, running along I-95 between a few park and rides).
You know, this seems to be a vital route for transit users in southwestern Rhode Island (wait, why would transit users live here?), so it must have a decent schedule, right? Nope! It runs on Fridays only, two trips north, one trip south. The route starts operations at 9:00 am at the Westerly train station, and travels through the main roads between the village centers before arriving at the Stop and Shop at 10:18. The bus leaves the Stop and Shop at 11:15 to head back to Westerly, arriving at 12:34. The final trip north leaves at 12:48, and ends at Wood River Health in Hopkinton at 1:47.
Judging from this schedule, it's simple who this is for. This is for those people in the villages looking to take transit to visit any of the area's grocery stores. They can go to any of the stores, and about an hour later, the bus will be there to take them back. Less for people who need to go to Westerly mid-day, as the bus is only there for 15 minutes between trips. Also, it is techincally possible to transfer to the 95x by the Stop and Shop. The 301 has 20 fixed stops that all passengers must board at, or rides can be scheduled in advance to small circles around the village centers. In one of those circles is the Wyoming Park and Ride served by the 95x. It's not going to be a short wait, though.
Final thoughts - I like the whole existence of this route. It's great to see transit accessibility in rural areas like this! Maybe one and a half round trips on Fridays only is not appropriate. I suggested last year to extend the 301 to serve the Kingston train station, but that was a year ago. I've learned quite a lot about RIPTA since, and I think there may be some better options. One option is to extend the 64 way out here, as a cross-Rhode Island route between Westerly and Newport. Another option would be to reroute the 95x to serve this area. The 95x already just runs down I-95 right through here, and a reroute would not add too much time (not too many trips, but it could be worked on). Also, I took the time to calculate the Eliot Deviation Index for the 301... and it's 1.68. Oddly enough, the 301 (and other Flex routes) are not included in RIPTA's GTFS files, so I had to manually input it into the calculator. With this post, RIPTA stops are officially part of the EDI calculator, so go have fun! The 301's stop IDs will be put at the bottom of this post (bonus points to whoever figures out how the IDs were numbered).
And with that, thank you so much for supporting me and this blog for the past year! It's quite clear that the quality of these posts have improved over the past year, and my knowledge of transit has improved as well. Thanks again to everyone, including Eric, Cedric, Miles, Selig, Brandon, Cod, Caleb, Andrew, Stormy, Aiden, Eileen, Tim, Tommy, John, Diane, Michelle, Jack, Chris, Aidan, Tom, Mike, and Oscar (names are in no particular order) for being there when I most needed it to keep this blog running!
The list of new stops for the EDI calculator:
Posted: Jul 11, 2022 01:28
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Cedric on July 11, 2022 at 2:29 pm: Congrats! Good post too
ice on July 11, 2022 at 3:12 pm: good post! here’s to the next years
Maz on July 11, 2022 at 6:50 pm: BLOG BIRF! Congrats dude! Here's to another however many years you intend to write the blog