In RIPTA, Transportation, Waterfront by Jef Nickerson20 Comments


Barring some other crazy unforeseen circumstance, RIPTA’s Newport-Providence “water taxi” service is a go for tomorrow.

The service will feature 5 roundtrips per day between Providence Piers (180 Allens Avenue) and Perrotti Park in Newport. The 50 passenger water taxi is smaller than the ferry used for last year’s service. The water taxi does not have a snack bar or rest room facilities (so make sure you go before you go). Due to the loss of the federal subsidy, the fares will also increase to $28 roundtrip for adults.

Service will operate through October. Fare and schedule information at: RIPTA.

About the Author

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.


  1. The MBTA might be doing away with their ferry service all together.

  2. Someone should do an extended season (April 1 – October 31) Providence-Newport-Block Island run.

  3. Who is the current contractor, or does RIPTA actually own and maintain boats? It seems like they missed out on a significant amount of $ for the newport summer music festivals which profits probably could have gone a long way to new boat parts. I wonder if something like the NYC water taxi is feasible – if private entities compete for free docking for a year in exchange for some minimum level of service.

  4. I agree with Mental 757 regarding the Providence_ Newport-Block Island Ferry Run. Maybe Interstate Navigation should have a contract with RIPTA. By the way RIPTA’s current contrract is with Ocean State Shipbuilding, Brooklyn Ct to operate the water taxi.

  5. I also want add that I do not think the M/V Warpdrive is seaworthy to go to Block Island.

  6. Author

    I’m envisioning someone’s contract not being renewed next year. If I remember correctly, the operator who ran the ferry in prior years put in a bid for this year. RIPTA had a subsidized bid option (not sure where the subsidy was going to come from), that they submitted for, but RIPTA went with the no-subsidy bid for the service we have now.

    I have to say, with all the issues and delays, even if service does come back before the end of the season, I’m not sure I’d want to ride it. What’s to say that another mechanical problem won’t surface and leave us adrift halfway down the bay?

  7. Before RIPTA started this ferry service, between Newport & Providence, the Interstate Navigation Company had its’ Providence-Newport-Block Island Ferry Run, aka The Block Island Ferry.
    In fact, in the late 1980s-early 1990s I went to Block Island on the MV Nelseco, a passenger ferry that was operating that run. Before then there was the MV Yankee. Interstate Navigation had that ferry for half a century before RIPTA was established.
    They are also looking into having high speed ferry service between Block Island from Newport using a catmaran.
    First RIPTA and the State of Rhode Ilsand should get RIPTA’s budget in order. Then RIPTA and Interstate Navigation should develop a partnership in having not only a Providence-Newport-Ferry Run (Local Ferry Run via TF Green Airport, Homestead on Prudence Island, & Hog Island, but also Express) and maybe bring back the Providence-Newport-Block Island, using catamarans, the M/V Nelseco, etc.
    In addition Interstate Navigation stated a ferry run between between Newport & Point Judith/Galilee.
    I hope that RIPTA, RIDOT, RIPUC and Interstate Navigation Company, aka “The Block Island Ferry” but not a “Ferry” limited to just “Block Island,” would look into this.

  8. It would say a lot to have an established operator do the service. People might be willing to pay the higher fares for a full-service vessel. Having food/drinks would create additional revenue for the operator in an unsubsidized agreement. RIPTA’s marketing efforts would help “sell” the service. I really think linking Providence, Newport, and Block Island would make lots of sense. Instead of having people take the bus to Galilee, bring the ship to Providence!

  9. OK, lets get to work on next year’s service now, so we can avoid these problems, no, wait…

    …actually have the service.

  10. Personally, I expected that this would happen and we are now in September the water taxi would be ending some time next month. In addition, RIPTA and the State of Rhode Island are having budget problems, also RIPTA’s Boston Counterpart, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)is having their budget issues too and may disconitue their Year Round Commuter Ferry Operations (aka personally dubbed, “The MBTA Aqua Line”) operated by Boston Harbor Cruises between Long Wharf & Charlestown Navy Yard (Inner Harbor Ferry) and between Rowes Wharf & Hewitt Cover in Hingham (Hingham Commuter Boat) and another ferry service operated be Water Transportation Alternatives(WTA), The MBTA’s Harbor Express Ferry between Long Wharf, Perberton Pier in Hull, Quincy Fore River Shipyard & Logan Airport.
    Before RIPTA has plan another ferry or water taxi service, they should get their budget in order.
    Now as far as RIPTA subsidizing ferry service to Block Island, I do not see it happening at this time and first RIPTA and Interstate Navigation must establish a contract first. As far as RIPTA ferry operations are concerned, I think they are restricted to passenger only-commuter ferry runs between Newport & Providence. The former Providence, Newport & Block Island (before the RIPTA Ferry Service Between Providence & Newport) and the current Newport & Block Island Ferry Run operated by Interstate Navigation are seasonal ferry runs. If RIPTA added Block Island to their service area, both RIPTA & Interstate Navigation would also have to agree on a contract for the year round vehicle-passenger ferry run between Point Judith & Block Island, which during the off Season cuts back on their ferry runs, especially during the winter. In addtion, if there is a winter storm, the ferry will not run.
    There are a number of things that RIPTA should also look into, which I mention with some earlier responses regarding RIPTA’s Water Transit Operations, that I hope is looked into at the appropriate time and not when RIPTA has budget issues.

  11. Agreed, but this year’s service and potential future service can operate without a RIPTA subsidy. I’d rather have the service un-subsidized and more expensive, then nothing at all – which is what we got this year.

  12. Since the Rhode Island Department of Transportation & Seastreak brought back the Providence & Newport Ferry, there was a high turnout of ridership on the ferry for both this year & last summer & the ferry now is at India Point in Providence.
    I also had a chance to ride the ferry home after transferring from the Block Island High Speed Ferry in Newport, which was the first time I rode the ferry when RIPTA & New England Fast Ferry was operating it.
    Along with the increase ridership, there are plans to bring the ferry to Rocky Point, which will make a good connection to TF Green Airport, the Interlink Terminal at TF Green Airport & the MBTA & maybe future RIDOT, RIPTA & P&W Railroad Rhode Island Railway (or RI Train) Trans-State (Woonsocket-Westerly) & Trans-Metro (Woonsocket-Wickford Junction & Woonsocket Quonset Point) Commuter Rail Lines . As well as the Rhode Island & Warwick Malls via bus or Bus Rapid Transit.
    I also like to see the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority to be a joint partner with both RIDOT Seastreak or Interstate Navigation (aka Block Island Ferry preferably) as a separate ferry fun from the Block Island Ferry runs. I would also like to see the Ferry Service Change from the Providence & Newport Ferry to the Narragansett Bay Commuter Ferry.
    I also want to see expansion of service to Bristol, the Bay (Prudence & Hog) Islands & take over the Prudence Island Car Ferry run.
    As well as an independent ferry run between Fall River & Rocky Point-Warwick thru a suggested Providence Metro Transportation District (aka Providence Metro Transportation Authority or Metropolitan Rhode Island & Bristol County Massachusetts District Commission, Transit District, etc.), Rhode Island & Massachusetts Departments of Transportation, Southeastern Regional Transit Authority & Rhode Island Airport Corporation & operated also by Seastreak or Interstate Navigation (aka Block Island Ferry preferably) as a separate ferry fun from the Block Island Ferry. I hope there is continued conversations by Greater City Providence about the continued success of the Providence & Newport Ferry.

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