Three Episcopal churches are part of a pilot program getting underway this summer to help get Newport’s North End residents to the beach. In an area of town where the beach is so close, and yet so far, this free, dedicated service will expand access for residents who don’t own cars. It can take as long as two hours to reach a beach using other means, according to residents.
The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) had been working with Bike Newport, and Clean Ocean Access to find ways of helping improve beach access and was able to overcome funding barriers with the help of Newport’s three Episcopal churches; The Zabriskie Memorial Church of St. John, Trinity Episcopal Church, and Emmanuel Church. A grant was awarded by the Episcopal Church’s Task Force on Creation Care and Environmental Racism.
Use of the shuttles will be monitored through the summer. If this pilot program is considered to be successful, RIPTA will take steps to continue the effort. The program’s partners hope that it may even be expanded into other areas of the state, allowing more people to take advantage of Rhode Islanders’ right to shoreline access.