Greater City Providence

You can haz RIPTA Ferry!


ProJo reports that we will have ferry service between Newport and Providence this summer after-all.

Dubbed the Providence-Newport Water Taxi on RIPTA’s website the service will use a smaller vessel than we’ve become used to. The 46-passenger catamaran will be operated by Ocean State Shipbuilding Inc. of Brooklyn, Connecticut (why Ocean State Shipbuilding is based in the Nutmeg State… I do not know). The company has no experience running a ferry service, but won the bid due to not requiring a state subsidy.

The smaller ferry (the prior ferry carried 149 passengers) will make the trip in the same amount of time, however it will only run 5 round trips per day from June to September (and drops to 3 trips per day through the end of the season in October).

Though the service is smaller, I am happy we’ve not lost it all together, and even more happy that a way has been found to run the ferry and not take money from RIPTA’s bus service (which would be a non-starter for me). Still, I can’t help to again point out how short sighted it was for us to be in this position. The ~$500,000 federal subsidy that made the ferry possible to begin with was always slated to end, it is disappointing that RIPTA had no plan on what to do when that eventuality finally came to pass.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • By the way, who on earth thought that branding this the “Water Taxi” was a good idea? I mean, who thought that the term “taxi” was more upmarket and desirable than “ferry,” or “catamaran,” or “shuttle,” or, I don’t know…. “inner tube.” When I think taxi, I think dirty and smelly… I think the only worse thing they could have called it is the “Water Bus.”

  • There’s also the fact that Water Taxi is a misnomer for the service provided. Water Taxis are generally smaller and usually provide on demand service, wherein the taxi is waiting at a dock, or a passenger somehow signals from the dock that they want a ride.

    Water Taxis generally make much shorter hops, such as Boston’s harbor boats. Boston has ferries that do short hops across the harbor, though Boston’s would be better termed as Water Buses as they run on fixed schedules, not on demand.

    Boston does have a privately run Water Taxi service, but it is like $10 to cross the harbor from the airport. I’d take the bus, the blue line, or the MBTA ferry which is only $1.70

  • First off I am glad RIPTA brought back water transit, Ferry, Water Taxi, etc. I hope RIPTA keeps its’ water transit and looks into expanding on it maybe like its’ Boston or Portland counterparts, which run year round and in Portland, the Casco Bay Island Transit District (aka Casco Bay Lines) provides a commuter ferry service in Casco Bay from Peaks, Little Diamond, Great Diamond, Long, Chebeague & Cliff Islands into and out of Portland, Maine.
    The MBTA Water Transit has Commuter Boats coming from Hingham, Qunicy & Hull going in out of Boston, which also includes a stop at Logan. In addition MBTA and Boston Harbor Cruised between Long Wharf, Downtown Boston and the Navy Yard, Charlestown.
    There are some additional facts that RIPTA should look into:
    There is no direct link between Newport & TF Green Airport and water transit would be something to consider in the future.
    There are 2 Island Communities in the middle of Narragansett Bay, Hog Island & Prudence Island. Anyone commuting into Providence or Newport has to catch a ferry to Bristol and catch a RIPTA Bus to either city.
    With Water Transit there could be direct access to both island to both Newport & Providence. Ferries could make stops at these islands while enroute to either Providence or Newport.

  • I lived in Portland and never visited the Casco Bay Islands. I think it might be like living in New York and never visiting the Statue of Liberty (which is something else I am guilty of).

  • That’s ok. I used to go out there all the time. So you’re covered. We would spend the summer out on Cliff Island and come to town once a week with a wagon to do the grocery shopping. Good times.

  • Along with RIPTA, the Southeasten Regional Transit Authority (SRTA) should also look into having a “Fall River-TF Green Airport Water Shuttle.”

  • ^That’s awful! I have friends coming to visit from Georgia and the ferry ride was going to be part of the whirlwind intro to RI.. Well, I guess I can show them our pristine highways with their perfectly smooth surface and courteous drivers instead.

  • Oh man! i think my sister is coming to town next weekend and she is afraid of bridges so I told her she could take the ferry to Newport!

  • If RIPTA is still planning of having this Water Taxi Service, which seems to be a big flop with Ocean State Shipbuilding Inc. of Brooklyn, Connecticut and should look having a contract with the ferry company that had the contract with RIPTA, New England Fast Ferry or Have a contract with the Interstate Navigation Company, operators of the “Block Island Ferry.” In fact, before there was a RIPTA Ferry or Water Taxi between Providence & Newport, Interstate Navigation did have a Block Island Ferry run from Providence’s India Point Park, via Newport’s Fort Adams State Park (where the Block Island Ferry starts from now, instead of Providence).

Providence, RI
5:21 am8:03 pm EDT
Feels like: 52°F
Wind: 9mph NNE
Humidity: 90%
Pressure: 30.06"Hg
UV index: 0
72°F / 52°F
77°F / 57°F
84°F / 61°F