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Newport Water Shuttles

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Ferry service planned to start in summer 2006

City Planner Paige Bronk says the idea for the shuttle is to get people out of their cars and use the harbor shuttle.

By RICHARD SALIT Journal Staff Writer | May 24, 2005

NEWPORT -- By next year, people who visit the City by the Sea will be able to get around town by the sea.

A plan to ferry tourists across the harbor aboard a shuttle -- in the making for many years -- will finally leave the dock next summer. Yesterday, local, state and federal officials gathered at Perrotti Park, the future hub of the ferry system, to announce that $1 million had been raised to launch the service in Newport.

"The whole goal is to get people out of their cars," said Paige Bronk, the city's director of planning, zoning and inspections. "We're hoping they will park their vehicle and take the water shuttle."

Yesterday's chilly and overcast weather wasn't the ideal setting to envision tourists riding shuttles around the harbor next summer. Likely stops will include Goat Island, Fort Adams, Ann Street Pier, the International Yacht Restoration School and, in later years, King Park.

Despite the incongruous weather, U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy joined the gathering at Perrotti Park to announce a $496,000 grant for the project, the second in two years. Last year, Kennedy helped secure $558,000 for the Newport shuttle service.

"We're quite thrilled. This enables us to put a program together, put some boats in the water and achieve our goals," Bronk said. If the second grant hadn't come through, "it would be a significantly reduced service. Now we can definitely attempt to implement our original vision."

That vision includes encouraging tourists to park at the Gateway visitors center on America's Cup Avenue, helping to ease traffic congestion downtown. The tourists could then stroll over to nearby Perrotti Park for a ride on a water shuttle.

The rides, whose fee might be discounted for Gateway patrons, would provide not only a sightseeing opportunity but a practical way to get around town.

"We have almost 4 million visitors a year," Bronk said. "Even if we catch just 10 percent, that's 400,000 people who would be removed from automobiles on our local roads."

There are now three water shuttle services in Newport. But, said Bronk, "We don't really have any service that provides transportation across the harbor, from land to land."

Continue reading at: ProJo.com

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Why doesn't this state look into ferries more as commuter options? It seems like a practical and sustainable congestion mitigator. They could run from the future Narr. Landing in Prov to East Bay towns and avoid NIMBYism, to Quonset, Conimicut, Apponaug, Narr. Pier, even up to Pawtucket and the EP waterfront.

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Why doesn't this state look into ferries more as commuter options? It seems like a practical and sustainable congestion mitigator. They could run from the future Narr. Landing in Prov to East Bay towns and avoid NIMBYism, to Quonset, Conimicut, Apponaug, Narr. Pier, even up to Pawtucket and the EP waterfront.

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It would be great to have a commuter system in Narragansett Bay. But, I don't think it could go year round. It would not be like the Seattle operation with their large commuter ferries.

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why couldn't it be year round? people take the long island ferries from new london (orient point) and bridgeport (port jefferson) all year. while those would probably get more use than narragansett bay ferries, i still think it's feasible, even with smaller boats. it would just require RIPTA to sync their bus times with the ferry times.

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The water shuttles in Boston run year round, and those are pretty small boats (the inner harbor ones are small than the RIPTA ferry). I think it could be done year-round and in extremely adverse situation they could bustitute the ferries.

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The water shuttles in Boston run year round, and those are pretty small boats (the inner harbor ones are small than the RIPTA ferry). I think it could be done year-round and in extremely adverse situation they could bustitute the ferries.

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The water shuttles in Boston run year round, and those are pretty small boats (the inner harbor ones are small than the RIPTA ferry). I think it could be done year-round and in extremely adverse situation they could bustitute the ferries.

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i commuted on the Fishers Island Ferry one winter (from New London, out the Thames river and into LI Sound to FI) and it never froze over. it was plenty rough though. Couple times the ferry simply didn't run and we all just went back home.

Now, everyone who worked on fishers island but didn't live there HAD to take the ferry (or fly) because there was no way to drive there. The auto culture in RI is so heavy that i think that it would take something like a banning of all personal vehicles in Newport for people to actually use the shuttles for work...

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i commuted on the Fishers Island Ferry one winter (from New London, out the Thames river and into LI Sound to FI) and it never froze over. it was plenty rough though. Couple times the ferry simply didn't run and we all just went back home.

Now, everyone who worked on fishers island but didn't live there HAD to take the ferry (or fly) because there was no way to drive there. The auto culture in RI is so heavy that i think that it would take something like a banning of all personal vehicles in Newport for people to actually use the shuttles for work...

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A couple of winters ago Nantucket Sound froze and the ferries current run. Nantucket was starting to run low on fuel and food. That's pretty unusual now though. One winter when I was living in New York the Hudson River ferries had to stop running because of ice. And occassionally the Boston water shuttle will have to shut down due to ice. Really though, rough seas and fog cause far more delays and cancellations than ice does.

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Tolls aren't ever going to happen on the Mt. Hope (Turnpike & Bridge Authority) or Sakonnet (DOT). They only got rid of tolls on the Mt. Hope a few years ago, and when the DOT suggested a $4 toll on the Sakonnet, people went bananas.

The Turnpike & Bridge Authority has been rumbling about a possible increase in the Newport Bridge toll from its current $2. It's pretty unbelievable that the toll has remained the same since the bridge opened in 1969. But people will still go bananas if they increase the toll - at least for a little while.

Ferries on the bay are definitely a tourism/leisure thing - it's too expensive for commuters on a regular basis. Besides the Newport Water Shuttles, the next stops I can imagine are in Bristol and at Melville once O'Neill builds his megamarina village. EG and Wickford have harbors that require a long, slow journey for a ferry from the Bay that makes it impractical.

That said, the RIPTA ferry is great! And I'm waiting for the day when Interstate finally acts on the approvals they received from the PUC and puts in a 1-hour high-speed from Fort Adams to Block Island.

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i'm a big fan of tolls as a means of income for maintaining and improving transit (both roads and mass transit). as a minimal highway driver in RI, it wouldn't affect me much, but i also wouldn't have a problem with it either, especially if it lowered our taxes a bit. i picture tolls similar to the ones in NH, which you pay just driving down the highway.

tolls on the newport bridges wouldn't be bad, people just like to whine, but they don't realize that their taxes are paying for it anyways and their taxes could be reduced if all the tourists visiting newport had to pay tolls on the bridges. that's a TON of money. they could do something for residents by giving them tokens or something at a reduced rate.

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If you buy tokens for the Newport Bridge, you get 11 tokens for $10 - just over 1/2 off the regular $2. That came about after local legislators put the pressure on for a locals discount a while back.

The Mount Hope is definitely a local bridge, so the "tax tourists" argument doesn't float there. Besides, they just got rid of those tolls - it'd look foolish to put them back up.

The Sakonnet is the busiest bridge to the island (Sakonnet + Mt. Hope > Newport/Pell when it comes to volume!). And while a lot of tourists do use it, it's also a huge commuter highway (Fall River, Navy, etc.) The DOT floated the toll idea a few years ago. It failed, miserably.

The bottom line is that, sure, from the DOT's perspective, as well as yours (a Prov resident who doesn't do a lot of highway driving), it's great. But for Islanders, the last thing we want is a required toll every time they go off-island. At least RITBA tolls stay local (Mt. Hope & Newport Bridges only); if the DOT tolled the Sakonnet, you know that money will be shipped around the state...the Island would pay the brunt but not get it back.

I'd be willing to see an increase in the cash tolls on the Newport Bridge...$2 is not what it was back in 1969 - according to the Consumer Price Index, $2 today was 38 cents back then! And that money stays with RITBA, so it stays local. But once that idea hit the Daily News, the legislators were attacking it left and right, which is too bad.

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If you buy tokens for the Newport Bridge, you get 11 tokens for $10 - just over 1/2 off the regular $2. That came about after local legislators put the pressure on for a locals discount a while back.

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Honestly, though, I'm very much in favor of the tolls. I could be mistaken, but I seem to remember an article from this summer which stated that all of the cost of repainting the Mt. Hope Bridge -- a project whose final cost is in the tens of millions of dollars, I believe -- is being paid from the money raised by the tolls on the Pell Bridge. I can't remember whether that article was in the ProJo or NewpNews. I'll try to dig it up. Anyway, I was extremely impressed with that. If we want to raise the cost of our existing tolls or create new ones, then that's the sort of thing our politicians need to be touting (in a loud voice) to the general public. Because of course, if that money hadn't come from the tolls, it would have come directly out of our taxes.

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it probably just wouldn't have been painted had the tolls not paid for it.

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Agreed. The argument for increasing the cash tolls on the Newport Bridge should be framed as one of maintaining the ability to improve the two bridges, not one of increased taxes.

I'd be interested to see how much the Bridge makes from cash tolls compared with tokens. Which is a bigger source of revenue?

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i woudln't even know where to buy tokens, but i've also only been to newport 3 times ever.

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