The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is seeking proposals to upgrade its fare technology, a move that will give customers many more payment options, including using their smart phones to board the bus. “Smarter” fareboxes will enable the Authority to offer customers a variety of different fare products that passengers can customize to meet their needs. This upgrade in fare technology will also help meet needs identified by passengers, particularly during the Authority’s comprehensive fare study in 2015. “It is clear that our customers are looking for tools to make our system easier to use,” said Barbara Polichetti, RIPTA’s Director of Public Affairs.
RIPTA recently began accepting bids for the project which will involve adding computerized components to existing fareboxes and building a network that will that will allow passengers to have secure online accounts. This technology will give customers many more purchase options, including the possibility of using mobile apps on their smart phones to board buses, or having reusable transit cards that they can add value to as needed — similar to the “CharlieCard” offered by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The farebox upgrade project will include all of RIPTA’s fixed-route buses as well as the vehicles used in its RIde paratransit service.
“This project will open up so many new options for our customers that it will make it easier than ever before for customers to buy fare products that suit their needs,” said Amy Pettine, Executive Director of Planning at RIPTA. “The improved technology will also mean faster boarding times since the updated fareboxes will be able to process information more quickly.”
The bid process closes on May 25, 2017 and RIPTA officials said they are hopeful that a contract will be awarded by the end of the summer. The project, which is expected to take two years to complete, is putting the Authority at the cutting edge of fare payment technology and will prepare the agency for a future that is less reliant on cash.
“Upgrading our fare collection system will make riding RIPTA so much easier for our passengers,” Pettine said. “They will be able to add funds to an online account and then use those funds to board the bus immediately, either by using their cell phone or a tap card. Boarding times will be faster, helping to keep our buses on schedule. We are really excited about the possibilities this system will create for RIPTA and its passengers.”
For more information on RIPTA’s programs and services, visit RIPTA.com.