The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) today announced the launch of a free fare pilot program on the R-Line, RIPTA’s most frequent and highest-ridership route, connecting Providence and Pawtucket.

This free fare pilot program, funded with $2.5 million in the state budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2022, is the result of legislation sponsored by Senator Meghan E. Kallman and Representative Leonela Felix. The funding will be used to replace lost fare revenue, purchase Automatic Passenger Counters, perform a required FTA Title VI Analysis, and prepare an evaluation report to the General Assembly.

This pilot program presents a unique opportunity to study the benefits and potential drawbacks of fare free transit service in Rhode Island. RIPTA will analyze a variety of factors, including: ridership impacts on the R-Line, other RIPTA routes, and paratransit service; service reliability; financial impacts to RIPTA and transit riders; and environmental impacts.

“We want to thank the Senate for this funding opportunity which will allow us to learn what free fare programs may mean for public transportation,” said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA’s Chief Executive Officer. “This pilot will give more people an opportunity to ride our busiest route, the R-Line, which connects Cranston, Providence, and Pawtucket. This project complements our ongoing free fare pilot program in Central Falls, and together these initiatives will guide fare discussions in the future. We look forward to sharing the findings with our elected officials in order to ensure continued growth of ridership on RIPTA and sustainable public transportation for our state.”

Passengers traveling on all other routes are required to pay the full fare.

Fare-Free Paratransit RIde Service

During the pilot program period, paratransit service will also be fare free for passengers making trips that begin and end within 3/4 mile of the R-line.  

Ride Free Central Falls

This is not RIPTA’s first free fare pilot program. Earlier this year, RIPTA launched a “Ride Free Central Falls” pilot program which allows passengers to board for free in Central Falls when using a Wave smart card or mobile app. This pilot is testing the effectiveness of using geofencing technology to promote the use of public transportation. To learn more about this pilot, visit RIPTA.com/CentralFalls.

Wave

Launched in September 2020, Wave gives passengers the option of paying their bus fare with either a reloadable smart card or a new mobile app and is already being used by thousands of RIPTA customers.  More details, including an instructional video, are available at RIPTA.com/wave.

For more information on RIPTA’s programs and services, visit RIPTA.com or call 401-781-9400.

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