By Carmen Russo

The Providence-Newport ferry service continues to prove popular with Rhode Islanders
and visitors alike, and has sold more than 5,000 tickets in its first 12 days,
passengers a unique and convenient transportation option to one of Rhode Island’s
most popular summer destinations. Additionally, RIDOT’s ferry operator, Seastreak,
has indicated that roughly 30 percent of sales are from out-of-state.
Following its debut on the Fourth of July weekend, in which all of the morning trips
to Newport were sold out, ridership remained high on sunny midweek days last week
and this week with one weekday sellout out on July 6 and more than a half dozen
trips that were close to capacity. And nearly 600 people took the ferry this past
weekend despite inclement weather.
«We are excited at the success of the ferry in just its first couple of weeks,»
Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti Jr. said.
«It shows that visitors are looking for an alternative and easier way to travel
between the two cities that lets them enjoy beautiful Narragansett Bay while avoiding
traffic and parking challenges.»
The ferry service has also garnered national attention, in coverage of news stories
following its inaugural weekend and recently on the Weather Channel. The station
highlighted Providence during its «Weekend Recharge» segment on affordable
prominently mentioning the new ferry service and the ease of traveling between
and Newport.
To make it easier to plan trips to Newport or Providence on the new ferry, RIDOT
announced it is now offering online ticketing and reservation services. Those wishing
to take the ferry can visit
to purchase tickets for round trip or one-way tickets. Tickets also can be bought
by calling 1-800-BOAT-RIDE or at the ferry landings at either India Point Park in
Providence or Perrotti Park in Newport.
RIDOT, in partnership with the R.I. Public Transit Authority, has upgraded its free
Providence city shuttle to a larger-capacity trolley-style bus, which operates between
the ferry, Providence Station, the Rhode Island Convention Center and Kennedy Plaza.
The seasonal ferry service runs seven days a week through September 5, with three
round-trip excursions weekdays (Monday to Thursday), and four scheduled trips each
Friday through Sunday. Fares are $10 for adults each way, and $5 for children, seniors,
and those with disabilities. The trip time is one hour. Free, secure parking is
available at the Providence landing.
The vessel, named the Ocean State, holds a maximum of 149 passengers and also includes
bar service. Pets are welcome, and passengers can take their bikes on the ferry
for free, but space is limited.
The new service is a pilot program, which will run through Labor Day. RIDOT will
evaluate the ridership at the end of the season to determine the future expansion
of the ferry service.