The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today announced that it intends to bring back the train service to the annual Rhode Island National Guard Open House and Air Show in 2017, providing an alternative way to get to one of Rhode Island's most popular and most attended events of the summer season.
The debut year of train service from Providence and T.F. Green stations was hugely successful, despite inclement weather on the first day and the late cancelation of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds as nearly 3,800 people took advantage of this unique opportunity.
On the first day of the show on June 11, approximately 1,400 people boarded the trains, and on Sunday, June 12, nearly 2,400 people took the train. When compared to weekend show attendance of 60,000 people, 6.3 percent, or 1 out of 16 people who attended the show this year, came by train. The national utilization rate for transit is about 5 percent, and in Rhode Island it's only 2.9 percent.
"We are very pleased with the results of our first year of train service to the Air Show, and will begin working with our partners this fall to begin planning for 2017 with the goal of bringing it back, contingent on MBTA providing the service," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said. "In Rhode Island, we run well below the national average for transit utilization, even though we're the second most densely populated state in the country. We've got a lot of work to do to enhance our transit system, and special events like the Air Show are a great way to introduce people to transit while offering a choice that reduces traffic congestion – one of the historic issues associated with this great event."
"The free train service provided this year to the Open House and Air Show was a success that wouldn't have been possible without the hard work of both the Department of Transportation and the Air show staff, said Brig. Gen. Christopher Callahan, the Adjutant General. This is an example of what can be accomplished with team work, creativity and passion."
This year RIDOT offered three round trip trains to the Air Show at no charge, with free parking convenient to both stations. Future planning may consider the addition of more trains and different departure times. RIDOT will work with the many partners who made the trains possible – the R.I. National Guard, the National Guard Association of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, the Quonset Development Corporation, Seaview Railroad, Amtrak and the MBTA – to determine the size and scope of the Air Show trains in 2017.
Commuter rail service between Providence, T.F. Green and the Wickford Junction station runs Monday through Friday, with continuing service to Boston on most trains. Last month, the MBTA modified its train schedule for improved service including better options for morning and after-work commutes and a late train for nights out or attending sporting events. Visit www.dot.ri.gov/CommuterRail for the latest schedule. Additionally, bus service is now available at Wickford Junction, providing a combined bus and train schedule with 80 stops per day and free parking.
Contact: Heidi Gudmundson (401) 222-1362, Ext. 4009