More than 40,000 passengers sailed the bay on the ferry this summer
The seasonal ferry service offered by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) completed a successful second season this past weekend, carrying 43,068 passengers this summer. Ridership is up nearly 10,000 from the ferry's inaugural season in 2016.
The ferry operated on an extended season this year, from June 16 to October 1. When comparing the same operating timeframe this year versus last year (July 1 to September 4), ridership was up by 900 passengers, meaning that the expanded season accounted for nearly 9,000 of the 10,000 additional trips this year.
"Even with the rainy and cool summer we had this year, the ferry had another very successful season," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. "It continues to demonstrate the viability of ferry service between Providence and Newport, helping to ease traffic and parking issues in Newport while reducing congestion in both cities while affording our riders a magnificent view of beautiful Narragansett Bay." During the next few months, RIDOT will evaluate the season as it makes decisions on ferry service for 2018. The operating costs were 100 percent federally funded, using $687,000 of transit funds that can be used only on these types of projects.
For 2017, RIDOT not only expanded the season by six weeks, it also added a daily round trip for four round trips Sunday through Thursday and five round trips on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays. The Providence to Newport ferry vessel, named the Ocean State, held a maximum of 149 passengers for each trip. Tickets each way were an affordable $10 for adults and $5 for children, seniors and those with disabilities.
Based on a ridership survey, 75 percent of riders this year were from Rhode Island, 22 percent were from out-of-state and 3 percent were international travelers. Through a partnership with Amtrak to provide one-stop booking for train fare with connecting ferry service to Newport, nearly 850 people were served.
Saturdays were the busiest day for the ferry this year, with the highest daily ridership on July 22 with 882 passengers throughout that day - an increase of more than 120 passengers than the busiest day in 2016. The 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. boats departing Providence and the 5 p.m. boat departing Newport were the most popular ferries throughout the season.