PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is launching a free-fare pilot program for its busiest bus route.
Starting in September, RIPTA’s R-Line, which runs from Pawtucket to Cranston via Providence, will be free for all riders.
The R-Line stops at Kennedy Plaza, the Providence Station and the Pawtucket Transit Center. The bus route accounts for just more than half of RIPTA’s passenger traffic, according to Sen. Meghan Kallman.
“RIPTA is a lifeline to thousands of Rhode Islanders,” Kallman said. “It is an incredible resource. So many people rely on the bus to get to work, to get to the doctor, the store, the market, any place they need to go.”
Kallman spearheaded the effort to secure the funding for a years-worth of free R-Line rides, which has been included in this year’s state budget.
The goal of the pilot program is to, “provide riders with financial relief, generate economic activity, promote social equity, improve the safety and health of neighborhoods, and advance Rhode Island’s climate goals,” according to RIPTA.
“Public transit is a public good – it is the glue that holds communities together,” Kallman said. “What’s more, transportation-related emissions make up about a third of the emissions in the Northeast … so from both a climate and a community perspective, this is a critically important issue.”
“Having free public transit across our state will help rid our streets of congestion and give a boost to businesses,” she continued. “Scrapping the bus fare would be a windfall to many of the families who spend a good part of their income on transportation. I believe that residents should be able to move freely around this state, regardless of income bracket.”
This is not the first time RIPTA has offered free rides. RIPTA launched the “Ride Free” pilot program in Central Falls back in March, which allows residents to ride for free for one year.