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Rail line to offer service to T. F. Green Airport

Starting this fall, travelers in Providence will be able to get to T. F. Green Airport with only a $2.50 train ticket, providing an alternative to pricey taxi services and crowded shuttles.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony tomorrow will officially open the Interlink, a transportation hub that will soon offer commuter rail transportation to Providence. The new line and station are the result of a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Transit and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said project manager James Eng, and the rail line will eventually connect Boston, Providence, Warwick and North Kingstown.

The exact date that service to the airport will begin is "still up in the air," Eng said, but it will be some time in late November or December. Initially, trains will run a half-dozen trips between Providence and the Warwick airport each day. By the spring, there will be eight round trips per day, after additional work is completed.

Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority buses currently connect the airport with downtown Providence. Students can ride RIPTA buses at no charge.

Many Brown students travelling to and from T. F. Green currently use the hourly Airport Taxi RI shuttle service that stops at Faunce Arch. The $11 service is independent of the University, said Virginia Arnold, customer service representative, though the company has "a standing commitment" to stop on campus.

The company is not planning on changing the number of shuttles or cabs on duty in anticipation of the new train service, said general manager Mike Mastrabano. He said he hopes the approximately five to 25 students who use the shuttle each day do not all switch to the commuter rail.

"Airport travel changes all the time," he said. "I personally think it is a stupid idea."

Elizabeth Gentry, vice president for financial and administrative services, said the expanded rail service "is great for Rhode Island," though it is not clear how much the new service will affect the travel patterns of Brown students.

"It's still far enough out that there's not enough details," she said.

Several students said they are already planning to switch from taxi and shuttle services to the commuter rail once trains start running.

"I've just been waiting for it to actually open up," said Maria Castillo '13.

Because the commuter rail will be less expensive than the shuttle, Ana Cuellar '13 said she would start using it.

Corey Finnerty-Ludwig '09 MD'13 said she will also take the commuter rail when she flies, even if it means walking to the Providence train station with her bags.

Officials at the University of Rhode Island are pushing to offer the same transportation choices to their students, and URI Vice President for Administration and Finance Bob Weygand said that he has encouraged RIDOT and MBTA to look into extending the line even further, all the way to Kingston and Westerly.

"We think it's very important that we have that kind of connection," he said. "Right now, it is very difficult for visitors."

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