Reservations strongly recommended; reduced passenger capacity this season in line with COVID-19 safety protocols
The popular Providence to Newport Ferry, including weekend service to Bristol, is returning on Friday, June 26. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) advises riders to plan ahead and make reservations, as capacity will be limited in accordance with COVID-19 public health protocols.
To keep everyone safe, the number of riders on the 149-passenger ferry will be reduced based on Rhode Island's Phase II reopening guidelines. During good weather when outdoor seating is available, 90 passengers will be allowed aboard. During inclement weather conditions when outdoor seating is a challenge, 60 passengers will be allowed to board. RIDOT and Seastreak will announce any changes to service or capacity limits as necessary, based on the weather and on guidance from the Rhode Island Department of Health.
Seastreak again will be the operator this year utilizing the ferry Ocean State, and will sanitize all high touch areas between and during runs and will thoroughly clean and sanitize the vessel at the end of each day. Passengers will be asked to follow social distancing practices both on the ship and on the docks and ticketing areas and face coverings are required. Anyone feeling ill should not ride the ferry.
"Summer is a special time in Rhode Island. We are glad that we were able to work with our ferry operator to bring back this popular service that gives all Rhode Islanders an equal chance to enjoy the beauty of the bay and experience Newport, Bristol and Providence car-free," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said.
"As a port of call, Bristol is ready to welcome the Seastreak Ferry service back again this year," Bristol Town Administrator Steven Contente said. "Bristol is a great place to spend the day walking along the water and enjoying nearby restaurants."
"We are excited to see the Providence-Newport ferry service safely resume this month for residents and visitors alike," Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said. "I invite our neighbors from throughout Rhode Island to support Providence's incredible local businesses and restaurants while we continue to observe social distance guidelines, so we can all enjoy a healthy and vibrant summer season."
"Newport is happy to have a convenient, car-free way for visitors to come enjoy our City," said Jamie Bova, Newport Mayor and City Council Chair.
The ferry season will run through Columbus Day weekend. Service to Bristol is part of the trip to and from Newport, and will operate on weekends through Labor Day weekend. Ferries between Providence and Newport run seven days a week, with four round trips during peak season and on weekends and three round trips daily during the fall shoulder season.
Ticket prices remain unchanged from last year, $11 for adults, and $5.50 for children, seniors, and those with disabilities. Bikes and pets are allowed aboard for no additional charge. Free parking is available in the Providence terminal.
Tickets are available now online at www.RideTheBayRI.com or by calling 1-800-BOATRIDE. Seastreak is encouraging the use of e-tickets as much as possible for no-contact ticketing. Tickets will be available starting on the first day of service at the Providence ferry terminal at 25 India St. in Providence, and on weekends at the Bristol Maritime Center, 127 Thames St. The actual ferry dock in Bristol is a short walk away at the State Street Pier at the corner of Thames Street and State Street. Those departing from the Newport ferry terminal at Perrotti Park, 39 America's Cup Ave., can either purchase tickets online or on the boat. The ticket office used last season remains closed until further notice by the City of Newport.
Another popular feature returning this year is an agreement for joint ticketing that allows passengers riding Amtrak trains to purchase a ticket that includes the ferry. RIDOT will continue its partnership with RIPTA to provide a free shuttle bus between the Providence ferry terminal and popular locations in the city, including Providence train station, the Rhode Island Convention Center, and Kennedy Plaza.
Since its debut in 2016, more than 165,000 tickets have been sold and ridership on the ferry has climbed 40 percent, surpassing 46,400 riders last summer – the highest ridership ever. Nearly 60 percent of people surveyed said they would not have visited Newport without the ferry.
Along with easing the traffic and parking hassles in all communities the ferry visits and reducing air pollution, the service continued to provide an economic boost. Ferry passengers spent nearly $2 million in Newport, about $87 per person on average.
The Providence-Newport ferry is made possible by RhodeWorks, RIDOT's ongoing commitment to repair structurally deficient bridges and bring Rhode Island's transportation infrastructure into a state of good repair, promote economic development, and create jobs. Learn more at www.ridot.net/RhodeWorks.