Greater City Providence

Report from the Field; New RIPTA trolley

Photo by Jim Beller

A reader reports that they were greeted at the bus stop this morning by one of RIPTA’s new hybrid trolleys, pictured above.

He reports that the ride was much smoother than the maddening bumps of the old trolleys. The driver also reported that they were much better to drive. Our reader also took note that the low-floor entrance at the front door will allow people in wheelchairs to board much more swiftly keeping the trolleys on schedule.

The old trolleys had a wheelchair lift in the back, that when working, could take forever. A wheelchair passenger boarding and unboarding could easily throw the trolley 5-10 minutes off schedule. That is, as I said, if the lift worked at all.

Photo by Jim Beller

Has anyone else seen the new trolleys in action or taken a ride on one?

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.


  • One of the improvements you don’t note is the seats. I’m glad to see they’re not the same “classic” wooden bench style seats that the old trolleys had. Those were uncomfortable and when the trolley stopped or turned, you easily slid off of them.

    They may not be as “quaint” looking, but they look nice.

  • and they don’t have the horrible wooden seats that slid you from wall to aisle with every small turn!

    Nothing but upside so far.

  • It’s a bus. Of course, the previous “trolleys” were too. Local buses designed to look like turn-of-the-century railway trolleys are one urban renewal gimmick that I’ve always thought was pretty ill-conceived.

  • Snow will be the big test, the old ones could not run in the snow and they sent out vans to replace them.

    I agree Carl about the odiousness of the faux railway trolley on rubber tires. I will hold my nose and deal with it so long as the trolleys are functional, i.e. smooth ride, ample comfortable seating, ease of loading passengers (esp. with mobility issues), operation in snow… The old trolleys were an all around FAIL. From what I’m hearing, the only thing wrong with these are their cheesball faux historic wrapping.

  • They’re standard Gillig buses all painted and lit up nicely. Saw one tonight on the way home. They have orange LED’s all around the top two layers of the perimeter. Kind of cool looking.

    But purple for the displays? What? They look like they’re RGB so they’ll be able to change that.

  • Aaron, I saw one of the new buses getting off the highway today as I was walking over the Atwells Bridge. I also saw it in LaSalle Square, but it was out of service, so I don’t know which line it was serving.

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