<p>Soon, current faculty, students and staff at Brown will be able to swipe their University-issued identity cards and ride RIPTA for free, anytime, anywhere in the state. The new U-PASS program goes into effect Sept. 1, 2007. Brown University hopes to benefit employees and the community by reducing energy consumption, traffic and parking congestion on College Hill and statewide.</p>

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University and the Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority (RIPTA) have launched a new program that will allow anyone with a current Brown ID to ride any RIPTA bus or trolley at any time on any route in the state at no charge.

Effective Sept. 1, 2007, faculty, students and staff will only need to swipe their ID cards through RIPTA’s new fareboxes and take a seat. RIPTA will keep track of rides taken and will bill the University monthly. This latest effort is one of many transportation initiatives undertaken by Brown University with the hope of benefiting its employees, students, and the College Hill community.

The University and RIPTA estimate the improved U-PASS program will double Brown ridership, at an annual cost to the University of about $200,000. The program is preliminarily slated to be in place for two years.

“Brown’s investment in this new program supports RIPTA, provides all members of the campus community with flexible, no-cost transportation, and will help RIPTA, Thayer Street, the City of Providence and the state by supporting public transportation, reducing traffic congestion and easing the parking situation on the East Side,” said Beppie Huidekoper, Brown’s executive vice president for finance and administration.

The University has been working with RIPTA since 2004, when Brown took the first steps toward the UPASS program by providing an opportunity for all students, faculty, and staff to ride for half price. That marked the first inclusion of faculty and staff in this type of program in the state.

The summer of 2007 has seen the continued progress of the Brown-RIPTA relationship with a new contract that calls for all students, faculty and staff to ride RIPTA free. Brown is the first school to sign a contract to integrate university ID cards directly with the RIPTA farebox using magnetic stripe technology, so that rides can be electronically counted.

“We applaud Brown’s commitment to our U-PASS program and to transit. This is an important cooperative venture, which will enable students, faculty, and staff to benefit from our transit system, help resolve parking problems on and near campus, and also positively impact the local community. As we’ve seen in other cities and towns throughout the country, increased use of transit helps to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion and fuel consumption. We’re proud that Brown has chosen to partner with RIPTA and believe this joint venture will benefit the University community and its neighbors in Providence,” said RIPTA General Manager Alfred J. Moscola.

The U-PASS program has already increased ridership substantially and currently is estimated to generate more than 2 million rides per year on the RIPTA system.

The University will review monthly statistics from RIPTA to ensure that only current, valid IDs are in use. IDs that are cancelled, lost, stolen or obsolete will be reported to RIPTA and will not work with the new fareboxes.

A special Barrington bus service will be added, direct to the East Side. One morning bus and one evening bus on RIPTA’s Route 60 will no longer require a transfer from Kennedy Plaza. The bus will stop on Thayer Street on the way into town and on the way out.