|Woah, pigeon photobomb! Check out that gray blur!|
|Wow, that's an intense interchange...|
|Zooming past a hospital.|
|A school bus yard.|
|Gotta love wind power!|
|Some industrial something-or-other just off the highway.|
|A pond view!|
|A nice little chapel by the road.|
|The main university stop.|
|Some sort of apartment complex.|
|Goin' round the rotary.|
|This turned out surprisingly symmetrical considering I was on a moving bus!|
|Anyone up for some 5-pars? Or something? I think that's how golf works...|
|The view of the water!|
|What a beautiful empty beach parking lot...|
|A view of Galilee (from after I got off, obviously).|
|The bus hangin' out.|
|Okay, how could I not include this one?|
|Looking across the harbor to some houses.|
|Time for the long trip back...|
RIPTA Route: 66 (URI/Galilee)
Ridership: Okay, there's a lot to talk about here, but we'll start with the numbers from 2012: the route got 1,636 riders per weekday, 650 per Saturday, and 521 per Sunday, ranking as the 14th-busiest RIPTA route. The 66 gets a huge variety of riders, too - commuters, locals, shoppers, beachgoers in the summer, college students during the school year...it serves a lot. Finally, it's very much worth noting that the route gets over half of its ridership from URI and points north, which we'll discuss later.
Pros: The benefits of the route being so long is that it serves so much. It's also nice that so much of the 66 is express, making the ride at least somewhat palatable - an hour from URI to Providence on weekdays isn't terrible. The headways are pretty sensible for the ridership, too, with 30 minute service at rush hour (including short-turns to URI), 60 minute service middays, 45 minute service on Saturdays, and 70 minute service on Sundays.
Cons: Like I said, it's a long route - almost 40 miles! That affects both on-time performance and the costs to run the route, both of which are worse as a result. One semi-solution for this is to have the route balance its ridership better, something it's not particularly good at now - there need to be more short-turns from URI to Providence, where the majority of the ridership is. If it was coordinated well, it could help prevent empty buses. The current weekday URI short-turns are usually scheduled to leave just before a full trip to spread the people over two buses, but if short-turns were made full-time, it would be optimal to have them coordinated for more consistent headways.
Nearby and Noteworthy: The area around URI seems pretty cool, and that "downtown" area had some decent-looking attractions. Definitely the biggest draw of the 66 is its southern section, where beaches surely draw throngs of riders in the summer. Couple that with the Block Island Ferry at Galilee, and you've got lots of noteworthy places along here!
Final Verdict: 7/10
The ability to get down the entire coast of Rhode Island for 2 bucks is pretty darn great, and the express portion definitely improves the ride a bit. The typical rider probably won't have too many problems with the route, aside from maybe Sunday frequency, but the ridership doesn't seem to be there to justify more service. From a planning perspective, the 66 has some logistical problems, for sure, particularly when it comes to balancing the ridership - I would love to see URI short-turns on Saturdays to allow for more frequent service along the busier part of the route. Regardless, the 66 serves a huge part of the state, and serves a multitude of different purposes. Plus, it's a really fun ride from beginning to end!
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Yeah, yeah, I know I never update this section, but here's an interesting tidbit: starting December 31st, the MBTA will reroute its Alewife routes to travel via Acorn Park Drive when coming in on Route 2. It should hopefully help the buses avoid traffic, but I'm just interested in what it'll be like to ride the bus through the office parks along there!