The hub of all of the RIPTA Newport routes (and coach buses) was unfortunately under construction when I was here in the summer, so the terminal might be a bit different now. Got it? Cool, let’s do this.
|Approaching the building from the south.|
I’m not gonna lie and say that I like the Visitors Center building, but it gets the job done. It’s big, it’s bold, and you can tell what it is when you see it. Alongside the structure, there’s a small plaza with some foliage and benches.
|Geez, that’s a lot of attractions!|
They’re not joking when they say this is a Visitors Center. It is a hardcore Visitors Center. The moment you step in the door, you’re in a room with tons of random booklets and posters advertising various attractions and services…plus a vending machine. And that’s not even the main part of it! Once you come into the actual Center, a huge circular information desk is the centerpiece to a room with many, many more brochures.
|More, more, more…|
Among other attractions in the room, there is a gift shop that sells various Newport paraphernalia. Beyond that, a diverse seating area features round chairs, short seats with tables, and tall seats with tables, all next to a floor-to-ceiling map of the surrounding area. Service desks in the building allow for reservations of tours and rental cars. And of course, there are racks of brochures everywhere.
|Moving to the transportation area.|
The first thing to greet passengers at the entrance to the transportation waiting area is a coffee maker with Starbucks coffee. Nice. The transportation area itself is less attractive than the rest of the Visitors Center, but it’s fine – there’s lots of seating space, as well as water fountains, wastebaskets, vending machines, a change machine, schedules, and a great bathroom.
|It’s a work in progress.|
The layout of the terminal has changed since I was here, but I can still talk about the overall design. It’s very simple, with sheltered benches spread across four RIPTA berths. There’s a middle section for coach buses and a pull-over part alongside the main road for tour buses. Rounding out the terminal is a taxi stand, some bike racks, and a three-story parking garage.
RIPTA Station: Newport Visitors Center
Ridership: Honestly, most of the “ridership” here seems to be in the form of endless tourists occupying the Visitors Center section! That being said, this is still a major ridership draw for RIPTA routes, particularly in that it offers a transfer from the long-distance routes (14, 60, 64) to the local 63 and tourist-oriented 67.
Pros: Combining the transit center and the visitors center is a great idea, and I can’t believe this doesn’t happen more often! What better way to attract tourists to your bus service than to put it in the same place as their main source of information? Not only does the Newport Visitors Center offer a hub for many different types of bus routes, but it’s also got lots of amenities and all the brochures you could ever need in a lifetime.
Cons: If anything, the terminal is a little far from the main goings-on of Newport, but that’s necessary because of the amount of space needed for this hub. Anyway, a little walking never hurt anyone.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Locally around the transit center, there are tons of businesses in really charming buildings! I have no idea what the situation is like in the winter, though…
Final Verdict: 8/10
Putting the transit center in the visitors center is ingenious! Hopefully some hapless tourists in here have been convinced to take the RIPTA 67 while getting information about the area! It’s great for both its functions, though, serving as a helpful visitors center as well as an efficient transit center.
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