RIPTA, Central Falls join forces on geofencing technology pilot program

CENTRAL FALLS – Using a new federal grant, the R.I. Public Transit Authority and the city will test technology to promote the use of public transportation.

RIPTA is one of 25 recipients to receive funding under the Federal Transit Administration’s Accelerating Innovation Mobility initiative.

According to a RIPTA press release, the authority will get $244,000 to partner with Central Falls to test geofencing technology to help create targeted promotional partnerships. These partnerships are designed to benefit transit and the public. The pilot program calls for creation of software that sets up a geofence, or virtual boundary, around the city. The software is designed to communicate with new smart cards and mobile apps.

The system will show if someone is in Central Falls when boarding a bus, and no fare will be charged as long as the passenger uses RIPTA’s Wave smart card or mobile app, according to RIPTA.

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“Mayor James Diossa understands the importance of public transportation and is forward thinking in his interest in using technology to benefit our industry and the public,” said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA CEO.

“In a community such as Central Falls, the ability for our residents to have access to transportation through RIPTA normally is extremely important, and this new technology provides the incredible resource for free when residents use the new smart card or mobile app during this test,” said Diossa.

The pilot program will last for a year and will launch in early 2021. Central Falls will contribute $50,000 to the project, with RIPTA contributing $11,000.

Geofencing is regarded as having opportunities to targeted-marketing partnerships that can increase use of public transportation, in terms of sponsored ridership by universities or social-service agencies, for example, according to RIPTA.

Central Falls residents who wish to participate can sign up for free for a new RIPTA Wave card or download the mobile app. More information is available at wave.ripta.com.

Susan Shalhoub is a PBN contributing writer.