RIPTA’s R-Line fare-free program ending after monthlong extension

THE R.I. PUBLIC TRANSIT Authority's pilot program providing free rides on the R-Line is set to end on Sept. 30. The agency says it is not financial feasible to continue the program. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
THE R.I. PUBLIC TRANSIT Authority's pilot program providing free rides on the R-Line is set to end on Sept. 30. The agency says it is not financial feasible to continue the program. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Public Transit Authority says it’s extending the R-Line fare-free pilot program for another month to give passengers sufficient time to be notified that fares will resume in the fall.

The pilot program, which provided free rides on a rapid-transit route that connects Cranston, Providence and Pawtucket, was scheduled to end on Aug. 31 but will continue until Sept. 30

Starting on Oct. 1, R-Line passengers will be required to pay the full fare, which is $2 per boarding with cash or $2 for one hour of unlimited rides with the RIPTA Wave card.

It wasn’t immediately clear how successful the pilot program has been. RIPTA could not immediately provide statistics such as ridership during the fare-free period, which began a year ago.

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The General Assembly allocated $2.5 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for the pilot program. The actual cost of this pilot program exceeded this allocation, RIPTA said.

Given the annual cost of this pilot and RIPTA’s current budget outlook, it was not financially feasible to continue this program indefinitely, according to the agency. RIPTA said came to this decision after a thorough analysis of the program.

During the pilot program period, RIde paratransit service had also provided fare-free for passengers making trips that begin and end within three-quarters of a mile of the R-line. Starting Oct. 1, paratransit passengers will be required to pay the full fare, which is $4 per trip.

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