The RIPTA doesn’t seem to care at all about the 73. For one thing, it’s a Pawtucket route, which means it instantly gets less priority. Also, its schedule (and ridership) is absolutely abysmal. And just look at the beauty of a vehicle they gave this thing:
|Oh my gosh, we’re in prehistoric times!|
Well, this bus was simply a relic. It was high-floor, and inside it felt exactly like an RTS bus…except worse! This thing was loud and could hardly make it up the tiniest hill..and yet it was made in 2004! Really?! It was quite the ride.
|The awful interior (with an interesting expression from my friend Nathan).|
|Looking up toward the front.|
We left the Pawtucket Transit Center, going up Roosevelt Ave and turning onto Exchange Street. This was downtown Pawtucket, so the street was lined with brick buildings, some of which housed businesses. The street became Goff Ave, and the surroundings got very industrial, with lots of factories and empty plots of land everywhere.
|Oh, did I mention the windows were caked with dirt? Prepare for some great pictures!|
We turned onto Main Street, then merged onto Mineral Spring Ave, going by a cemetery and starting the unique portion of the route. The street became lined with dense houses and a few businesses. We crossed over the Northeast Corridor and went by a school and some residential developments on the other side.
|A residential side street.|
We passed a boring-looking shopping plaza and some old factories after. There was a school bus yard on the side of the road, then the bus struggled up a hill lined with more dense houses. Businesses appeared at the intersection with Smithfield Ave, but the scenery was generally residential along here.
|Some sort of parking area.|
Eventually, we turned onto Charles Street, joining the 51. The street was mostly businesses for a bit until we struggled our way up another hill which went under Route 146. We entered Lincoln on the other side of the underpass, and it got surprisingly rural-feeling. The street (now called Old Louisquisset Pike) had no sidewalks, and the houses were pretty far apart in the forest.
|Oh look…um…telephone wires!|
Some businesses appeared eventually, and we turned onto Paul Street after that. This led to a huge parking lot, and we went onto a street running through it to get to the Twin River Casino. Here, everyone on the bus got off except for me and Nathan, so we continued with the rest of the route alone. The bus went around a little loop and we headed back onto Paul Street.
Technically we’re supposed to go back the way we came, but the driver decided to loop around the casino instead. Thus, we headed down Paul Street for a while before merging onto Twin River Road at a rotary. This took us back to Old Louisquisset Pike, which was lined with houses. We soon turned off the road, though, arriving at the final stop: the Community College of Rhode Island, or “CCRY” as the lispy automatic announcement made it sound.
|Two shots of the bus at CCRI.|
RIPTA Route: 73 (Fairlawn/CCRI)
Ridership: Since I don’t count kids (they don’t pay), the total ridership on the bus was…four people! Including me and Nathan! Okay, but it was the morning, so maybe more people use the route overall. Let’s see, in 2012, the route got…287 passengers per weekday. Wow, and it ran on weekends back then with even lower ridership – 100 passengers on Saturdays and 81 on Sundays. Oh, and what’s this? It ranked “47 out of 54 routes.” 7th-lowest ridership route, huh? Tsk, tsk.
Pros: Just about the only use for this route is that it gives a one-seat ride from Pawtucket to the Twin River Casino and CCRI. I mean, the section on Mineral Spring Ave got no one, and it’s pretty close to the much more frequent 72.
Cons: Gosh, you know it’s a bad route when I start listing off cons in the “pros” section. Let’s see, aside from the fact that the independent section of the route is mostly useless, what else is wrong with it? Oh, the schedule is quite miserable. The route runs every hour, and on weekdays only. Yes, it makes sense, but if the ridership is this low even with every hour service, then why run the route at all outside of rush hour?
Nearby and Noteworthy: Uh…Twin River? If you happen to be into gambling, and you also happen to be in Pawtucket on a weekday, then this bus is for you!
Final Verdict: 4/10
This is definitely one of the more interesting RIPTA routes I’ve been on so far, but it just doesn’t seem very useful. 73 service could probably be cut outside of rush hour, and not too many people would be impacted. The most important thing it does is connect Pawtucket to Twin River, but if only a few people are taking advantage of it, then clearly it must not be very necessary.
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