Saturday, March 25, 2017

RIPTA: 78 (Beverage Hill/Newport Ave)

Oh boy, Beverage Hill! I've heard rumors that it's a magical land full of beverages of all shapes and sizes! Orange juice, milk, soda...and some alcohol for the older folks *wink*. Well, I cannot wait to discover if these rumors are true! The 78 is our bus today, people!

The bus coming into Pawtucket.
We headed down Roosevelt Ave from the Pawtucket Transit Center, then we turned onto Main Street, crossing the Seekonk River. As the road passed through an industrial area, we turned onto the one-way Water Street, which became School Street. This residential road took us up high, offering a great view of the Seekonk River.

I tried...
The river eventually fell away behind a variety of buildings: a hospital, an apartment, and a boys and girls club. Soon, though, the street curved around to become...BEVERAGE HILL AVE! Were there the drinks all around that I had been looking forward to so much? Actually, no, it was just rather industrial. Shoot...

You let me down, Beverage Hill!
We rejoined the outbound route at Prospect Street, then Beverage Hill Ave became mostly residential (aside from one little blip of more industry). After we reached Newport Ave, we made a really strange...deviation, I guess you could call it? The route eventually runs down Newport, but before doing that, we circled a block around the back of a shopping plaza through an industrial area. It really didn't feel necessary...

Man, this is a wasteland...
Well, we did make it to Newport Ave (entering East Providence), which was mostly lined with suburban businesses and parking lots. Near a golf course, we merged into the residential Pawtucket Ave. The road crossed over a single train track, then a large cemetery occupied one side of it.

The cemetery with some apartments behind it.
We passed by some businesses and churches, but the area was still mostly just houses. Pawtucket Ave made a few curves left and right, then we passed through that same golf course from before (it's pretty big). We had to deviate after that, pulling into the parking lot for a little mall called Wampanoag Plaza.

The mall parking lot.
After the deviation had been completed, we headed down Taunton Ave, which was lined with more suburban businesses. Eventually we arrived at a pretty industrial area and passed through a strange intersection where Taunton Ave became Waterman Ave. However, we next turned onto John Street in order to make our way back down to Taunton Ave.

Part of that weird intersection.
The street was lined with all manners of residential buildings, businesses, religious buildings, and even East Providence City Hall. Then all of a sudden, Taunton Ave became an on-ramp, and we were heading onto I-195. This took us over the Seekonk River again, offering a great view.

Nice!
Now in Providence proper, we descended down to ground level and got off the highway at Exit 2. This took us onto South Main Street, which ran past various buildings and some kind of park...thing. Eventually we came into a really nice neighborhood with a bunch of awesome unique businesses lining the street.

The 78 used to go through the tunnel, but they rerouted it. Alas...
We went by the Rhode Island School of Design, the portal to the East Side Bus Tunnel, the First Baptist Church in America, and lots of other businesses. Next, we turned onto Steeple Street, taking us over the Providence River. Turning onto Memorial Boulevard, then Kennedy Plaza, we arrived at the main RIPTA hub.

The bus about to pick up outbound passengers.
RIPTA Route: 78 (Beverage Hill/Newport Ave)

Ridership: In 2012, the 78 got 1,000 riders per weekday, 800 per Saturday, and 300 per Sunday. That averaged out to about 20-25 riders per trip, which is about on par with what I saw on my ride. The great thing about the 78 is that it has transportation hubs on both ends, so ridership goes in both directions!

Pros: Well, for one thing, see the last sentence. Sure, no one's gonna take this from beginning to end, but having big hubs on either end allows for great bidirectional ridership. It helps that the route serves a huge chunk of East Providence, and its schedule is decent - every 45 minutes on weekdays and Saturdays, and every 90 minutes on Sundays (infrequent, but the ridership is lower).

Cons: The Sunday schedule could probably stand to be better, and I also have a problem with one section of the route: that weird one-block deviation around Newport Ave. The route only does it going inbound, and it really doesn't serve anything that's not within walking distance of Newport Ave. It seems like it just adds unnecessary time to the route!

Nearby and Noteworthy: There isn't much of note along the 78's independent section, but it does serve a really cool neighborhood on its approach into Providence. That said, it's within easy walking distance from downtown, so I wouldn't recommend taking the bus there.

Final Verdict: 8/10
This is a really solid route. It serves a big portion of eastern Pawtucket and East Providence, and can bring its residents to either of RIPTA's two biggest hubs! The route is decently frequent as long as you're not riding on Sundays, too. Yeah, that one deviation by Newport Ave is a bit weird, but the route is great aside from that.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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