|The bus with the Providence skyline in the background.|
|"I don't know what this is a picture of, but I'm going to take it" was my mindset here.|
|A park along Exchange Street.|
|You gotta admire intricate interchanges like this.|
|I'm obliged to include this bug, because it's fantastic.|
|The parking lot.|
|Crossing Bald Hill Road.|
Ridership: The RIPTA's ridership data is a few years old, and for the 12x, it dates back to when the route was called the 90A. It didn't have very much ridership then, with only 62 passengers per weekday, and if my ride is to judge, the ridership still isn't high. My trip got a total of around 10 people, which is pretty darn shabby, even for an express bus. Around half of those people got off at the Route 117 Park and Ride lot, while the other half disembarked at Arctic Center.
Pros: This is a niche express route, giving West Warwick peak hour service up to Providence. Its schedule is the standard for RIPTA expresses, with three trips in the morning and three trips in the evening.
Cons: But it's really niche. I mean, the 12x serves a small park-and-ride lot and a small town center already covered by two local routes. I suppose there's a market for express service from West Warwick during rush hour, but it's certainly not a very big one. It's also worth noting that the local section of this route operates in a strange loop, with AM service running via Centerville Road and PM service running via Toll Gate Road. This is because the Route 117 Park and Ride is on one side of a divided highway, so it's effectively on a one-way. However, the loop formation means that anyone commuting along a one-way section only gets service in the morning or evening.
Nearby and Noteworthy: I gotta say, Arctic Center is a pretty boring place, despite its cool name. However, there is one restaurant there that is a fantastic experience: Boneheads Wing Bar. Right in the center of town, the food is pretty good, but the whole place is themed around rock music, which is awesome. For a music geek like myself, it was incredibly fun reading the menu items, most of which are named after bands or songs. I'm not sure if it's worth a trip all the way down to Arctic, but this place is pretty cool.
Final Verdict: 6/10
I guess the 12x does its job fine as an express, and provides peak service from West Warwick to Providence. Its ridership group is a small one, but it would be bad to cut them off and force them into cars. However, I wonder if that group could be made larger if there was a solution to that one-way service issue. What if the route ran the whole loop in both the morning and the evening, with the Park and Ride acting as the official start/end point instead of Arctic Center? In the morning, it could start at the lot, go around the loop via Arctic Center, serve the lot again, and then go up to Providence - vice versa in the evening. I'm not sure how much ridership that would draw from residents living along the loop, but it could be an interesting experiment.
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
I'm going to Bermuda over April Break, so I won't be posting until after I get back on Saturday. Goodbye until then!