The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) announced today that it will continue to offer free service on its new route to the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown. RIPTA, which has partnered with the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC) for this pilot program, said that the express route from Providence to Quonset will be free through the end of the calendar year as the transit authority continues to work with its partners on building ridership on the new route. “This is all about economic development and connecting people to jobs,” said RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian. “We knew that starting in the winter would be a bit of a challenge, and continuing the free pilot program will give more people a chance to give it a try it.” Initially, the free rides had been slated to end in mid-April. The new Quonset Express service, called the QX, was launched in January, and provides a direct connection to Quonset and its more than 200 businesses. Avedisian noted that the pilot program has had strong support from the Governor’s Office, QDC and other state partners.
“For too long, Quonset Business Park was inaccessible for many hardworking Rhode Islanders,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “No one should have to turn down a great job because they don’t have a way to get there. This free pilot program is an important step in our efforts to connect Rhode Islanders with economic opportunity through public transit, and I’m glad it’s been extended through the end of this year.”
“We are committed to making the Quonset Business Park accessible for the nearly 12,000 workers who commute here each day,” said Steven J. King, Managing Director of the Quonset Development Corporation. “We hope more employees will take advantage of the Quonset Express bus as spring approaches.”
The QX service currently consists of two non-stop, express trips from Kennedy Plaza in Providence to Quonset in the morning, and two express trips back to Providence in the afternoon on weekdays. QX buses stop at about a dozen locations in the Park, including Electric Boat, Toray Plastics and the Ocean State Job Lot Distribution Center. Avedisian said that RIPTA is receiving a lot of helpful feedback from Quonset businesses and come June, some changes will be made to trip times to make the service more in synch with employer work hours. RIPTA will also be looking at other modifications, such as starting the route in Pawtucket, in order to make it accessible to a greater number of people, Avedisian said. The details will be publicly announced when they are finalized.
RIPTA was able to launch the pilot service with the free trial option for passengers thanks to federal grant money plus a 20% match of those funds from the QDC. The approximately 3,100-acre business park is the leading engine of job growth in the state. The Park is home to one of every seven manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island and its Port of Davisville is one of the top 10 auto importers in North America.
For more information on the QX, please visit QXConnects.com.