RIPTA extends ‘Ride Free Central Falls’ pilot programme

Posted: 24 May 2023 | | No comments yet

The extension of the ‘Ride Free Central Falls’ pilot programme will allow RIPTA to continue using geofencing technology to promote public transport use and explore targeted marketing partnerships until August 2023.

RIPTA extends 'Ride Free Central Falls' pilot programme

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has announced that it has extended its ‘Ride Free Central Falls’ pilot programme, which tests the effectiveness of geofencing technology in promoting public transportation. The programme, initially launched in March 2022, will now continue until 1 August 2023.

Geofencing involves creating a virtual boundary around Central Falls, and the geofence has been expanded to include the Pawtucket-Central Falls Transit Center. RIPTA’s software interacts with its Wave smart fare technology, automatically waiving the fare for passengers boarding with a Wave smart card or mobile app within Central Falls or at the transit centre. Free fares are only offered for trips originating in Central Falls or the new intermodal centre, while trips starting elsewhere require full fare payment.

RIPTA received grant funding as part of the Federal Transit Administration’s ‘Accelerating Innovative Mobility’ initiative, which aims to improve transit services using advanced technologies. Central Falls has been chosen as a test area due to its small size and high population density. The effectiveness of the pilot programme is being evaluated through surveys, focus groups and travel trend analysis, with the results shaping future policies and initiatives.

In total, RIPTA received $244,000 for the project, partnering with the City of Central Falls, which contributed approximately $50,000. The funding covers lost fare revenue for RIPTA. 

RIPTA launches RFP to develop new, innovative transit centre

Geofencing, utilising GPS, cellular networks and other technologies, allows precise targeting for marketing purposes. RIPTA is interested in geofencing as it enables targeted marketing partnerships to increase public transportation usage. Entities like universities, business associations, or social service agencies could sponsor ridership in specific areas. For example, a city’s business district could collaborate with RIPTA to offer free transportation within a designated zone, making the retail area more accessible to customers.

“Improving transportation involves more than just acquiring new electric buses or adding new routes; it also includes introducing new innovative measures to enhance public transportation,” said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA CEO. “Expanding this geofencing technology to include the new multimodal transit centre does just that. We are excited to be able to offer free fares with Wave at the new Pawtucket-Central Falls Transit Center as part of this pilot.”

“I’m so excited for the momentum we’ve made to bolster public transportation. It’s clear that affordable, accessible transportation makes a difference,” said Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera. “I’m thrilled we are extending the free bus ride programme through this summer, and expanding its radius to include passengers boarding a bus from our Pawtucket-Central Falls Transit Center.”