The trains have been running through Wickford Junction (South County's only commuter rail stop) for almost seven months now and ridership has remained stayed at just shy of 200 daily passengers. For a project that cost $45 million and included a 1,100-space parking garage, that figure is a bit lower than what taxpayers would hope to see.
In a segment that ran on WJAR-TV last week, Channel 10's news team looked into the future of the project. By their estimates, the "total cost of the project compared to its use works out to about $225,000 per passenger. (Check out Channel 10's full segment on Wickford Junction here)
According to RI Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis, the station is an "investment for decades to come." The parking garage, he said, was built with 2020 projections in mind – which estimates the station will see 1,500 daily passengers by then. Lewis added that RIDOT is working on a marketing campaign to raise awareness about the station.
Many have criticized the station's scheduling, calling for stops at night and over the weekend. In an interview with North Kingstown Patch in June, DOT Chief of Intermodal Planning Stephen Devine said that department is waiting to grow daily commuters before adding new routes.
“We only had about 150 to 200 people per day for a couple of years when we first opened Providence,” said Devine. “Today, we now have over 2,000 riders per day and many more trains.”
Do you think Wickford Junction will boom in the coming years or bust? What do you think would help improve ridership at South County's only commuter rail location?