*Well, second-to-last RIPTA bus of the night. But still, that’s pretty cool, right? Also, this happened last weekend. I have some explaining to do…

Okay, the Penn Band was planning a trip up to Brown to play at a football game. Those who were of drinking age were planning on visiting an admittedly awesome-looking bar, but I knew I wanted to take a RIPTA ride while we were up there (not that I’m of drinking age anyway). My original plan was to do a route that I had never done before, like the 30, but that thing ends at 8:40 and there was no way we would get to Providence in time. The 30 is an easy route to ride, anyway. What was something that could only be done if I was spending the night in Providence?

Of course! How about riding the last possible bus of the night? Oh wait…the last bus of the night is a 1:15 AM trip on the 60 that arrives at Newport at 2:25 with no way of getting back. That wouldn’t work. Okay, what’s the second-to-last trip, then? Ah, a 12:40 from Newport to Providence on the same route, arriving at 1:48! Let’s do that.

We were scheduled to get to Brown at 8:30 PM, and the 60 leaves every hour on the :10 from Providence. I created this fantastic little walking tour of Newport that would be possible if I (and whoever else I could recruit to come along) got the 9:10 trip out of Providence. My advertisement of “Come see the oldest tavern in America, the oldest synagogue in America, and the 22nd-largest house in America!” seemed to be working on the other freshmen who couldn’t drink and didn’t have anything better to do that night.

Unfortunately, the traffic on the way up was maddeningly slow and we didn’t arrive until 9:45. Long story short, the band was split up to go to various rooms; my fellow bandmate Josh and I were rooming together; and it was 10 o’clock by the time we dropped off our stuff, so if we were gonna get this thing, we would have to go it alone. So…that’s how we ended up running down College Hill at 10 PM, and I think we were both grateful that we were going down the steep hill and not the other way. There’s a reason they built a special tunnel so buses don’t have to climb this thing!

Of course the bus was late. When it finally did come over the South Water Street bridge to our stop, we got on and inserted our bills into the farebox (yeah, I know it’s bad, but at least we didn’t use coins). I was pleasantly surprised: this thing was busy! Josh took a seat near the front, and I stood next to it. “Heah, let me move my bags so you can sit,” said the woman sitting in the seat facing Josh’s. “You’ah gonna get wikkid tiyahed if ya stand the whole way.” Ah, it was so good to be back in New England.

The bus ended up getting about 35 riders in total heading down. I had no idea it would get that many people! Generally, people slowly trickled off as we went along; that nice woman with the amazing Boston accent left in Bristol, wishing us a pleasant evening as she got off the bus. Nine or ten students disembarked at Roger Williams University, and right after that was the Mount Hope Bridge, which was beautifully lit up at night.

We got to Newport and walked around the pretty little town for an hour and a half. Seriously, if you’ve never been, it’s an awesome place. Use the MBTA’s $10 weekend pass and grab RIPTA down the rest of the way for two bucks. It’s more active during the summer, but there’s a ton of stuff to do there even in the winter. Heck, even at midnight on a cold October night, a ton of bars were open with live music and people were roaming the streets. Although then again…it was “Halloweekend”. Ooooooooh.

We’re not alone.

The Newport Visitors Center bus terminal was quiet, though. I was pleased to see that it’s gotten some upgrades since I reviewed it, including proper berths and nice departure screens. The sight of a few people waiting was a good thing, and the lone bus laying over solidified the fact that, yes, this elusive 12:40 trip did indeed exist. I do trust RIPTA with these kinds of things, but before we saw the bus, there was that niggling thought in the back of my head that we might’ve gotten trapped in Newport for the night.

The (second-to-)last RIPTA bus!

We had some extra time (after all, you do not want to cut it close with the last bus), so we went to an outdoor machine to buy tickets before boarding. We found another pleasant surprise there: when you buy tickets from the machine, they automatically come out as two-hour passes! For 2 bucks, the regular fare! Usually you have to spend an extra dollar to get the pass, at least if you’re buying on the bus. I don’t know if this is exclusive to the Newport machines, but I was really happy to see it. Not that it’s very useful for the second-to-last bus, of course.

This is a pretty cool souvenir, though.

Right on time, the bus started up and pulled up to the berth. This trip coming back was a lot less busy than going down, but I was still pleasantly surprised with how many people got on. Okay, only nine on the entire ride, but for an inbound trip at almost 1 AM, it’s not bad. At one point we went by the true last bus of the night, but the windows were tinted so we couldn’t see how many people were on board. Shoot.

The bus pulling into position.

Inside the bus.

Bad picture of the bridge, but I promise it was pretty!

The totally dead East Shore Expressway.

See ya!

The ride itself wasn’t that eventful, but it was a lot of fun driving through the middle of nowhere at 1 AM. Josh and I left the bus at Hopkins Street to return to Brown, climbing up the hill back to the dorm at which we were staying. And that’s about it! It was great to ride RIPTA again, and doing it really late at night was a blast. I leave you with just one more memento I had to get from the trip:

Man, I love that awful RIPTA voice…