Passengers can obtain a Wave smart card directly from or they can choose to...

Passengers can obtain a Wave smart card directly from or they can choose to download the new Wave app.

Photo: Rhode Island Public Transit Authority

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) announced that starting Jan. 15, paper fare products will no longer be accepted on buses. The paper fare products include monthly passes, day passes, seven-day passes, and 10-ride passes. RIPTA officials said that passengers will not lose any monetary value since they can exchange paper products for equal value on RIPTA’s smart fare collection system called Wave.

Launched in September 2020, the Wave system gives passengers the option of paying their bus fare with either a reloadable smart card or a new mobile app and is currently being used by 40,000 RIPTA passengers.

Also, as of January 15, 2022, RIPTA will no longer be issuing transfers on buses and all trips will be exact change only. Cash payments will still be accepted on buses, but no change cards will be issued if it is not exact payment.

“These are some of the final changes as we move RIPTA to a 21st century fare collection system which has so many conveniences and benefits for our customers,” said Greg Nordin, RIPTA’s chief of Strategic Advancement. “With our Wave system, our passengers can purchase just what they need, when they need it, and board our buses in a safe and contactless manner, using their Wave card or the mobile app.”

Nordin said that with Wave the base $2 fare includes one hour of unlimited travel on all RIPTA routes. Passengers can transfer between routes during that time. He also noted that the mechanical units on the bus that printed out transfers and change cards have begun to reach the end of their useful life expectancy, increasingly causing roadside service calls and route delays.

“Eliminating the need to print transfers and change cards will help our system run more efficiently," Nordin said. “And again, the ease and flexibility of Wave will help make it easy for passengers to transition to exact change without the need for paper transfers.”

The new Wave smart fare system offers:

  • No more lost fare products. If you lose your registered Wave smart card, you can simply go online, cancel the lost card, and transfer the balance to your replacement card
  • The value you add to your account is available on your card or mobile app instantly
  • Get credit for the trips you take with the “Earn As You Go” feature
  • Passengers can use the auto reload feature on their account to make sure they always have value on their card or mobile app