Wednesday, June 13, 2018

RIPTA: 59x (North Smithfield/Lincoln Express Park and Ride)

Okay, so this is the 59x. It's an express route that runs three trips in each direction every day. And...uh...well, just take a look at the bus it was using...

UMMMMMMMMMM...
Alright, so we're riding a tourist trolley to Slatersville! Uhh...that's...interesting. How did this happen exactly? Okay, well, our little trolley headed out from Exchange Terrace and we used Francis Street to get onto Memorial Boulevard. We curved around the Providence Place Mall on a ramp leading to I-95 North, but after passing a few downtown Providence buildings and landmarks, we took an exit onto Route 146.

Just a part of the sprawling Providence Place Mall.
Route 146 got pretty woodsy pretty quickly, with only brief flashes of civilization whenever we traversed an overpass. We were travelling along the route of the 54, but luckily, we didn't have to do its deviation to Twin River Casino and CCRI. However, we did have to do its Lincoln Mall deviation, so we took the exit onto George Washington Highway.

This is a weird part of the mall...
Ah, but it wasn't just a Lincoln Mall deviation. No, this was a Lincoln Mall Park and Ride deviation! Yes, we made our way to the back of the mall to just randomly stop in the middle of the parking lot, and this was apparently a stop, and almost everyone on the bus got off. Okay...so you're telling me that the main reason most people use the 59x is so that they don't have to walk to the other side of a mall. Huh. Also, I'd just like to remind everyone that we're in a tourist trolley!!

Coming from behind the mall.
We returned to Route 146 after that deviation, and after an interchange with I-295, the highway became just a regular road with a bunch of suburban businesses along it. We soon merged onto Route 146A (Smithfield Road), but we got to skip the 54's Walmart deviation, which was kinda nice. There were some more suburban businesses before Smithfield Road turned to the dense houses of Woonsocket.

The shopping center into which the 54 deviates.
This was not a Woonsocket express, though. The 54 left us to go down Providence Street towards downtown Woonsocket, but we stayed on Smithfield Road, which had a section where it was just woods and a cemetery. Houses did eventually come back as the street became Great Road, but they were more spread-out and suburban.

A cool view from the woodsy section.
We went through a place called "Branch Village," but it seemed to just be a few businesses with parking lots and a driveway to an industrial building. After that, we went over Route 146, and the road now had houses alongside it again. It became Victory Highway, there was a brief section of forest, and we finally deviated into Slatersville Plaza, our last stop.

A tourist trolley in Smithfield. I never thought I'd see the day.
RIPTA Route: 59x (North Smithfield/Lincoln Express Park and Ride)

Ridership: My trip got six people. Four of them got off at Lincoln Plaza. One of them got off at a random stop that they could've taken the 54 to. So...one person took the 59x for its independent section. That's not great.

Pros: It skips some 54 deviations. That's nice.

Cons: To me, this route just feels redundant to the 54. Considering that five out of the six riders on my ride could've theoretically used the 54 instead, why not just...put them on the 54? I think that route can handle an extra five people. As for the one person...well, maybe the 59x doesn't need three trips in each direction per day. Maybe it only needs one.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Slatersville Plaza has...a supermarket. And a Subway. And a Rite Aid. Okay, yeah, it's boring.

Final Verdict: 2/10
Considering how many resources it takes to run three one-way express trips in the peak direction only, this route could easily be scaled back. I mean, that's three separate buses that all have to be deadheaded in one of the directions, and it they're each carrying riders in the single digits, most of whom could just use the 54, then I don't see the point in running the route! Maybe it could have one trip to get North Smithfield people, but even then, I don't know if that's worth it...

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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