87: Fairmount / Walnut Hill

July 16, 2022

Most of Rhode Island's smaller cities seem to have a local, non-Flex route primarily serving that city. Narragansett has the 69, Newport has the 63 and 67. Characterized by decent headways (the 69 being an exception due to the ferry), these routes complement Flex and longer-distance services by expanding regularly scheduled service where riders may not need one-seat service to Providence, but just around town.

The 87 complements the 54, 59x, and the 281 by doing this around Woonsocket. The 87 snakes its way around downtown Woonsocket, along various one-way streets, connecting homes, parks, shops, and downtown attractions all along one route. The 87 almost seems perfect. The route sees service 7 days a week as well! The only issue is the actual routing. The 87 is basically a loop around downtown Woonsocket. Around downtown there are a handful of one-way streets, but RIPTA chose to run this route one-way down two-way streets. Social and Clinton Streets are one-way, while River Street (for instance) is not. Riders along River Street (and a few more streets) get a bus going in one direciton only, and to go back, they have to ride to one end of the one-way section and get another bus going back. I'm not really sure why this is the case, but it might be there to speed up travel from one end to the other because of hard to make or prohibited turns.

Schedule wise, this is what makes the 87 really good for RIPTA or any small city bus route. On weekdays, the route runs with 40 minute headways between 6 and 9 am and 5 and 9 pm, with 30 minute headways between 9 am and 5 pm and can get you from one end to the other in about half an hour. Weekends is where it gets good. Most small city bus routes don't have very good weekend service (or no weekend service at all), like I saw with Worcester. This is RIPTA, a statewide agency, and I already know that they do offer weekend service on most routes, and the 87 is no expection to this. The 87 gets 40 minute headways on weekends between 7 am and 9:30 pm.

Final thoughts - From the scheduling, I can already tell that this route has even demand throughout the week. This isn't like other routes, where weekday service is better than weekend service, and we see this approach throughout RIPTA and other agencies. The 87 doesn't really have anything special about it. It connects people and places that they would want to go. But the frequency of the route does this really well. People go downtown, to the supermarket, etc. on more than just weekdays, and the weekend service that this route provides allows for people to easily use transit to get around. Well done, RIPTA.

Posted: Jul 16, 2022 21:42


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Cedric on July 16, 2022 at 9:49 pm: Nice post! I think the 40 minute weekend headways were added somewhat recently, didn't it used to be an inconsistient 80? And Reiko's mentioned that this is one of few routes to have NEVER changed its routing which is rather impressive