The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today kicked off the return of the seasonal Providence-Newport Ferry service, with new weekend stops in the bayside community of Bristol.

The kick-off of the ferry service between Newport and Providence was postponed on Friday due to mechanical issues. Service is expected to begin on Saturday, May 25th.

The new ferry service to Bristol is part of the trip to and from Newport, and runs on weekends from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Special trips will be included for the Bristol Fourth of July Parade and WaterFire in Providence. Ferries between Providence and Newport run seven days a week, with three round trips daily during spring and fall shoulder seasons and four round trips during peak season and on weekends. Service to Newport runs through Columbus Day weekend.

“When we launched this service, we always planned to expand it to other ports of call along beautiful Narragansett Bay,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said. “After a successful first year providing service to the Bristol Fourth of July Parade, we decided to expand our service to Bristol throughout the summer. Just like our primary service between Providence and Newport, the ferries reduce congestion, motor vehicle emissions and parking problems.”

“The Seastreak ferry is a fun, fast way to travel among three beautiful, historic seaports – Providence, Newport, and now Bristol – while enjoying Narragansett Bay,” said Heather Evans, Chief Marketing Officer of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation. “It’s a great example of what we mean by ‘fun-sized,’ making it even easier to enjoy many of the Ocean State’s sights and activities in one day. It’s great for both Rhode Islanders and the visitors, whose spending here makes tourism one of the largest industries in the state.”

“The Town of Bristol is happy that Seastreak will be landing in Bristol, one of Rhode Island’s original ports,” said Bristol Town Administrator Steven Contente. “The ferry landing, along with the new Maritime Center and amenities, will be a hub for ferry passengers. The Town of Bristol offers day-trippers many fine restaurants and museums within walking distance of the historic downtown district. Visitors also can take advantage of the nearby Prudence Island Ferry as well as the start of the East Bay Bike Path. Thank you to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and Seastreak for making this possible.”

The ferry service has been an economic boon as well. RIDOT conducted a survey of passengers last season and found that those who traveled to Newport solely because of the ferry on average spent about $78 per person. By comparison, the City of Newport conducted an economic impact survey of cruise-ship riders in 2010 that found an average spending of $25 per person. During the season, the ferry riders spent $730,000. Over 40 percent of the RIDOT survey respondents said they would not have visited Newport without the ferry.

Nearly 120,000 tickets have been sold since the ferry debuted in Summer 2016. Seastreak again will be the operator this year utilizing the ferry Ocean State. Ticket prices each way increased slightly, but remain very affordable at: $11 for adults, and $5.50 for children, seniors, and those with disabilities. Bikes and pets are again allowed aboard for no additional charge. Free parking is available in the Providence terminal.

Tickets are available now online at www.RideTheBayRI.com or by calling 1-800-BOATRIDE. Tickets will also be available on the first day of service at the Providence ferry terminal at 25 India St. in Providence, the Newport ferry terminal at Perrotti Park, 39 America’s Cup Ave., and the Bristol Maritime Center, 127 Thames St. The actual ferry dock in Bristol is a short walk away at the State Street Pier at the corner of Thames Street and State Street.

Advanced reservations are strongly recommended, especially for weekend trips, as departures from Providence in the morning and early afternoon were frequently sold out last year.

Another popular feature returning this year is an agreement for joint ticketing that allows passengers riding Amtrak trains to purchase a ticket that includes the ferry. RIDOT will continue its partnership with RIPTA to provide a free shuttle bus between the Providence ferry terminal and popular locations in the city, including Providence train station, the Rhode Island Convention Center, and Kennedy Plaza.

The Providence-Newport ferry is made possible by RhodeWorks, RIDOT’s ongoing commitment to repair structurally deficient bridges and bring Rhode Island’s transportation infrastructure into a state of good repair, promote economic development, and create jobs. Learn more at www.ridot.net/RhodeWorks.

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).