RIPTA offers new program traveling between Newport sights

NEWPORT — If you’ve ever driven across town in the summer, there’s no doubt you’ve been stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. A new pilot program from the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority aims to reduce this traffic congestion.

From Friday through October 31, passengers can enjoy the free “Hop-On Hop-Off” program on a route that serves some of the city’s most ornate sights. Evan Smith, president and CEO of the region’s tourist board, Discover Newport, which sponsors the program, called it a “critical initiative”.

“Almost every city in America, and every city in the world, is struggling with congestion and mobility issues,” Smith said at a Thursday morning news conference at the Gateway Visitors Center, as buses RIPTA could be heard going in and out.

“We believe this service…will be an effective way to get people out of cars and solve the traffic problem,” he said. “It’s not a one-pill wonder. It won’t solve all of our problems, but it’s a start.

Route 67 will travel from the Gateway Center to Ledge Road off Bellevue Avenue, making a number of stops along the way including the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Salve Regina University, Museum Audrain automobile, the Cliff Walk, Rough Point and many of the mansions operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County.

With a cart voucher — available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the RIPTA customer service kiosk — motorists can park for $2 a day at the Gateway Center at 23 America’s Cup Ave.

The Route 67 bus is part of a new

From Monday to Friday, the shuttle will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with a frequency of 20 minutes. On Saturdays it runs from 8:40 a.m. to 8 p.m., with a frequency of 15-20 minutes, and on Sundays from 9:40 a.m. to 8 p.m., with a frequency of 15-20 minutes.

“This exciting partnership is a creative solution to help alleviate traffic congestion during peak tourist season while benefiting the local community,” RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian said at the press conference.

Avedisian noted the “perseverance” of Smith and the Discover Newport team. He said Smith approached him with the idea before the COVID-19 pandemic and had plans in place before “everything fell apart”.

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“You never gave up on going back to that mission and doing it,” Avedisian said.

Smith, in his remarks, predicted a bustling summer travel season, starting with the Memorial Day weekend crowds that are expected to fill the city.

“We are delighted to support this initiative,” he said. “We see this as a pilot program, we think it will be effective and we hope it stays there in the future.”

The Route 67 bus makes a stop at the Gateway Visitors Center in Newport on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

While touting the new “Hop-On Hop-Off” program for Route 67, RIPTA officials also reminded residents of free transportation on Route 68, which connects the city’s northern neighborhoods to Easton’s Beach. It starts on June 18 and ends on October 31.

Avedisian said this program, sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, aligns with RIPTA’s Transit Master Plan initiative “which expands services to new areas and improves transit access. for everyone”.

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This program is back for a second year after a pilot last beach season. It begins at the CCRI campus, 1 John H. Chafee Blvd., and stops at the Gateway Center and the Department of Human Services at Aquidneck Corporate Park, 31 John Clarke Road in Middletown.

The free Route 68 bus runs from Newport's North End neighborhoods to Easton's Beach.

“I remember talking last year to people who had access to the beach, and what impact it had on them to go to the beach like everyone else,” said the Very Reverend W. Nicholas Knisley, speaking on behalf of the diocese.

Avedisian urged people to use these programs because “the best way for us to show that projects like these work is to have the numbers at the end…the people who have actually benefited from this type of service “.