RIPTA extends ‘Ride Free Central Falls’ programme to December 2023

Posted: 28 July 2023 | | No comments yet

With the geofencing technology’s promise of targeted marketing partnerships, RIPTA aims to enhance transit services and promote widespread access to public transportation through the programme extension.

RIPTA extends 'Ride Free Central Falls' programme to December 2023

Credit: Rhode Island Public Transit Authority

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has announced the continuation of its successful ‘Ride Free Central Falls’ pilot programme until 31 December 2023. The programme, which had been initiated in March 2022, is aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of geofencing technology in promoting the use of public transportation.

As part of the pilot programme, RIPTA had implemented a geofence, a virtual boundary, encompassing the City of Central Falls through the use of specialised software. Under this initiative, passengers starting their trips within Central Falls and at the Pawtucket-Central Falls Transit Center are eligible for free fares, while those originating outside these designated areas are required to pay the full fare.

The geofencing software works in conjunction with RIPTA’s Wave smart fare technology, automatically exempting passengers boarding with a Wave smart card or mobile app within Central Falls or the Pawtucket-Central Falls Transit Center from fare charges.

Geofencing, a technology utilising GPS, cellular networks and other technologies, is becoming increasingly popular as a marketing tool globally, enabling businesses to target specific audiences and display advertisements on computers or mobile devices according to the user’s location.

RIPTA extends ‘Ride Free Central Falls’ pilot programme

For RIPTA, geofencing holds significant potential as it can pave the way for targeted marketing collaborations to enhance public transportation usage. This technology could facilitate partnerships with entities such as universities, business associations, or social service agencies to sponsor ridership within a defined area. 

To support this innovative approach, RIPTA had secured grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) ‘Accelerating Innovative Mobility’ (AIM) initiative. Out of 25 nationwide recipients, RIPTA has received $244,000 to partner with the City of Central Falls to test and expand the geofencing technology’s potential for targeted promotional partnerships. The City of Central Falls is contributing approximately $50,000, while RIPTA is contributing $11,000 towards the project, which includes covering lost fare revenue.

As the original pilot programme funding has not been exhausted yet, RIPTA is extending ‘Ride Free Central Falls’ until the end of 2023. The authority is closely monitoring the pilot’s effectiveness in achieving its objectives. 

Since its launch in September 2020, RIPTA’s Wave smart fare technology has gained popularity among passengers, offering them the convenience of paying bus fares with a reloadable smart card or a new mobile app, and already serving thousands of RIPTA customers.