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Do I have to get a Wave card or download the Wave app?

No — you can still use cash, and you can continue buying your fare the way you’re used to. But Wave lets you save money by earning a Day Pass as you ride, so you never pay more than you have to, and you don’t have to commit to buying a pass in advance. Wave also offers lost card protection when you register, which safeguards your balance in case of loss or theft. So no, you don’t have to get a Wave card, but we think you’ll love it!

Where can I get a Wave card? Can I have one mailed to me?

Wave cards will be rolling into local participating retailers in fall 2020. Please check back on our website to see locations as they come on board. Locations and maps can be found here.  Once you have any card type, you can load it at any retail location or on line here.

Yes, you can have a card mailed to you! Simply click here to fill out the online order form or call 401-781-9400.

For the Bus Pass Program for Seniors and People with Disabilities, please call 781-9400 x.2012.

How much does a Wave card cost?

Wave cards are currently free.  Wave has no cash value until you add funds to it.

Eventually, there will be a $5.00 one-time activation fee for Wave cards.

Do I need a bank account for the Wave?

No, you don’t need a bank account to use Wave, though the easiest way to load funds onto a Wave card with is with a credit or debit card. If you do not have one, you could continue paying cash on-board until we begin to offer retail cash reloads in the fall.

How do I “earn” a Day Pass? How does this save me money?

All you have to do is ride. Once you tap your card more than three times (the price of a day pass) in a 24 hour period (4am to 2am the next day) you will earn a Day Pass and your account will not be charged any more money until the next day starts. When you pay for three trips in a day, you will see a special message on the smart card reader screen that says, “Day Pass earned!” and the rest of your rides are free until the next day. That means you’ll never pay more than the price of a Day Pass in one day. With Wave, everyone gets the savings of a pass, but without the upfront cost or commitment.

How can I tell if I earned a Day Pass?

If you registered your card, you can log into your account at wave.ripta.com and check your card history. Here you will see that more than three taps in a 24 hour show as a zero value cost ride. This means your account was not debited for any funds, because you have earned a Day Pass.

How can I tell if I earned a Monthly Pass?

Similar to earning day passes, you can earn monthly passes too. As you ride using Wave, the amount you have spent within a calendar month will be tracked with each bus ride. Once you have enough rides that equal the cost of a  Monthly Pass, you will hear a special chime and see “Monthly Pass earned!” on the smart card reader screen. When you hear that special sound, all rides for the rest of the calendar month will be free. The calendar month is considered 4am on the 1st of the current month, through 2AM of the 1st of the following month.

What is stored value?

The Wave card can hold a pass or stored value in a linked account. Stored Value is an electronic alternative to cash. It uses a “smart card” that contains a microprocessor computer chip that both stores electronic currency and processes financial transactions.

Do I have to tap every time I board?

Yes – your tap is proof of payment. Tap your card at the Wave card validator located on board the bus, every time you board a RIPTA vehicle.

How is the Wave card different from the current fare system?

Wave is simply a better way to pay your fare and we have made it even easier for daily pass users with Earn As You Go. With Wave:

  • You tap your Wave card on the Wave reader on board any RIPTA vehicle every time you board.
  • You can protect your balance from loss or theft by registering your card on the Wave website (wave.ripta.com)
  • You can earn Day Passes and Monthly Passes instead of buying them in advance. You’ll never pay more than the price of a Day Pass in one day, or Monthly Pass in a month!

Are there fees or service charges?

There are no regular fees or service charges for using Wave.

Do you still accept cash?

Yes.

Are paper tickets and passes going away?

Yes, we are planning to phase out all paper fare products, but we haven’t decided exactly when. RIPTA will announce in advance of when paper products are phased out. There will be a trade in program for all paper products even after they are phased out.

What personal information does Wave collect?

If you choose to register your Wave card, we ask for your first and last name and your email address. We use your anonymous travel data (viewed in aggregate with other riders’ trips) to look at broad ridership trends and help us improve our service. With your permission, we use your transaction data to help you when you contact us with a question about your account.

Is my financial information secure?

Yes. Your personal data and bank information is in a secure database and is not on the card itself.

Are there still programs for distributing free or reduced fares?

The current programs for senior and disability bus pass subsidy programs are still in place for individuals who qualify for the programs. Seniors and riders with disabilities that have the reduced fare Wave card will have the added advantage to load their passes and value electronically or at participating retail locations.

I’m just visiting the Rhode Island area. Do I need a Wave card?

Welcome! No, but if you’re going to be in town for a while and you expect to ride frequently, you may want to get a Wave card so you don’t pay more than you have to. Enjoy your visit!

How, when and where do I tap with my Wave card?

Tap every time you board a RIPTA vehicle, even when you transfer. You won’t necessarily be charged every time you tap, but it validates your fare and serves as your proof of payment. Unlike some other transit systems, you don’t need to “tap off” when you exit.

To pay, just hold your Wave card for about one second against the Wave card reader. Hold your card below the Wave reader screen, where you see a little hand holding a card and a contactless payments symbol.

Within a second, you’ll see a green checkmark and the Wave card reader will play a chime indicating that your payment was successful. You’re good to go! Just remember to tap every time you board, including transfers.

If I use the mobile app version of Wave, how, when and where do I scan my phone?

Within the app, bring up the “use” tickets screen, which will display a large QR code. Hold your phone directly under the card reader by about 4 inches, facing straight-up. This will allow the optical scanner to scan the QR code on your phone.


Within a second, you’ll see a green checkmark and the Wave card reader will play a chime indicating that your payment was successful. You’re good to go! Just remember to scan your phone every time you board, including transfers.


The QR code that comes up on your screen is dynamic, and updates itself every 10 seconds. Make sure you have good cell reception for the QR code to keep refreshing. Also, be sure you have your screen brightness turned up, to help the Wave reader scan your phone more reliably.

Why does the Wave card reader play a different sound sometimes when riders in certain programs tap their card?

The chime you hear when tapping Seniors, Passengers with Disabilities, and certain employer-issued cards is a bit different than other fares. This is simply an audible reminder that you're using a reduced-fare card or ticket that requires proof of eligibility when boarding. You'll hear a voice say “check ID” and you'll see “ID Required” in the upper right corner of the reader screen. This means you’re good to go, but just need to show the photo on your Wave card to the Driver before sitting down.

How can I tell how much time I have left to transfer?

When you tap your Wave, the reader will display the time and date that your fare expires. You can transfer between buses for free as much as you want until that time. If you tap your card again after that, you’ll be charged another fare. If you tap an expired ticket or a Wave with no balance, you’ll see a red “X” and a “Transaction Denied” message. You can also check the time remaining on your Wave card at wave.ripta.com, using the Wave app, or by calling 401-781-9400.

I’m with my family or a group, can I pay for more than one riders’ fare with my Wave card?

No. Everyone age 6 and up in your group or family needs their own Wave card to pay a fare. However, you can easily manage multiple cards through one Wave account on the Wave website.

Do I have to “tap off” too?

No. Just remember to tap on every time you board.

My Wave card won’t tap when I place it near the reader.

First, make sure you're tapping the card on the black area just below the screen. Hold the card flat against the reader and wait a moment until you get a confirmation. If your card still doesn't work, you may have a faulty or damaged card. Please contact us and we'll help you out.

How do I check my card balance or the time remaining on my ticket or pass?

You can check your Wave card balance or pass on at wave.ripta.com, or by phone at 401-781-9400.

Will Wave remind me when my balance is getting low?

If your Wave balance is low, you’ll see a yellow warning in the top left corner of the validator after tapping. This warning will show whenever you tap your card and it has a balance of $5 or lower. If you have less than the cost of a single bus trip you will see a red “x” and the screen will say “insufficient balance.”

Can I set up Wave to automatically add money to my card when my balance is low?

When you register your card, you can set up autoload, which puts money on your Wave card whenever your balance dips below a threshold amount that you set up, which can be as low as $0.01. You can set up the amount to load to your card with an amount starting at $20.00 when it hits that threshold. That way you’re never stuck without fare!

Can I transfer my balance between cards?

Yes! You can do this on your own on wave.ripta.com or just give us a call at 401-781-9400.

What happens when I “deactivate” my card? Do I keep the money?

Yes, your balance stays on your Wave account. We just shut off that card temporarily so no one can use it. You can log in to your account and select “Reactivate Card” to turn it back on. If you get a new card, call us at 401-781-9400 and we’ll transfer the balance to your new card.

How do I report my card lost or stolen?

If you have a registered Wave card and it’s ever lost or stolen, let us know immediately by logging in to your account and choosing “Report Lost or Stolen” on the Wave website, or give us a call at 401-781-9400 and we can do it for you. The balance of a registered card is protected if it is lost or stolen.  Once you have reported your card lost or stolen, the previous card will be deactivated and your balance can be transferred to a new card.

How do I get my money back after my card was lost or stolen?

If your card is registered, we can transfer your money or pass to a replacement Wave card.  Give us a call at 401-781-9400 or go online to wave.ripta.com to order a replacement card.

Why is my card blocked?

Cards are blocked either by the account holder at their request to a Customer Service Agent at 401-781-9400 or you may block your card yourself at wave.ripta.com.

When a card is blocked, it goes on a "hot list."  This means when it's tapped at a card reader a negative sound is made and a customer does not have the ability to pay for their ride with their Wave card.

Cards are also blocked by the system if the card was used with insufficient funds. In this case, the card is considered to have gone "negative."  When the card has gone "negative" a user has to load money to the card to cover the negative amount and add sufficient funds to ride again. Doing so automatically unblocks a card.

How do I unblock my card?

You can unblock your card by calling  RIPTA at 781-9400. If your card is blocked because of insufficient value, you can add value at wave.ripta.com or at a local retailer which automatically unblocks a card so it can be used again.

What if I get a commuter benefit card or a pre-tax transit debit card from my work? Can I use it to load money on my Wave card?

As long as it has a Visa, Mastercard, Discover or Amex logo on it, you can use it as a payment method when you reload using wave.ripta.com, the Wave app or bay calling 401-781-9400. However, you can’t use a commuter benefit card or transit debit card to buy or reload a Wave card at retail locations.

Is there a minimum load amount?

There is a $10.00 minimum when loading money on your Wave card using credit or debit. For cash, there is no minimum.

How do I load money on my Wave card?

There are a few ways to load money on your Wave card:
• At wave.ripta.com
• By calling 401-781-9400 and using the automated line
• At any of the participating stores in our retail network (coming fall 2020)  
• On the Wave app, available for Android or iOS


Which fare products can I load onto my card or app?
Day Pass $6
Monthly Pass $70

Which fare products can I load onto my card or app?
Day Pass $6
Monthly Pass $70

Do I have to load a fare product onto my card or app?

No. Once you add value to your Wave account, the Wave reader will deduct $2 from your stored balance when you tap your card or scan your app when you board.   The $2 fare entitles you to one hour of unlimited rides! Don’t forget, with Earn As You Go, you will never pay more than the cost of a Day Pass in a day or the value of a Monthly Pass in a calendar month. You do not have to pre-purchase a Day Pass or Monthly Pass.

How much does a ride on the bus cost?

It costs $2.00 for one hour of unlimited rides.

Once you have reached $6.00 in rides in a single day, you have earned a Day Pass and can ride for the rest of the day free. Once you have reached $70 in rides in a single calendar month, you have earned a Monthly Pass and ride the rest of that calendar month for free. Wave keeps track of your rides and knows when to charge and when you ride for free - all you have to do is ride!

*Please note that Route 24L is $4.00 for each ride, though with Wave you’ll never spend more than $6.00 a day and $70 a month, so rides on 24L will help you earn those passes faster!

When does a Day Pass expire?

Day Passes are valid until 2AM.

When does a Monthly Pass expire?

Monthly Passes are valid until 2AM, of the following month. For example, a January Monthly Pass would be good for unlimited rides from 12:00:01AM on January 1st, through 2:00:00AM on February 1st.

I already have a Wave card. Can I transfer a balance from my Wave card to the Wave app?

Yes. Please contact Customer Service at 401-781-9400 to transfer your balance or transfer the balance on wave.ripta.com. Please note we only allow transfers between cards registered to the same Wave account.

What if my battery dies? Will I still be able to ride?

Just like paper tickets and passes, it is your responsibility to have a valid fare with you at all times. Be sure to keep your phone charged and bring a battery backup, if necessary. If you prefer, we can switch you to a plastic Wave card so you do not have to worry about batteries. The cost to ride the bus is the same, regardless if you choose to ride with the Wave app or plastic Wave smart card.

When and where do I scan my app?

Within the app, bring up the use tickets screen, which will display a large QR code. Hold your phone directly under the card reader by about 4 inches, facing up. This will allow the optical scanner to scan the QR code on your phone.

Within a second, you’ll see a green checkmark and the Wave card reader will play a chime indicating that your payment was successful. You’re good to go! Just remember to scan your phone every time you board, including transfers.

The QR code that comes up on your screen is dynamic, and updates itself every 10 seconds. Make sure you have good cell reception for the QR code to keep refreshing. Also, be sure you have your screen brightness turned up, to help the Wave reader scan your phone more reliably.

What should I do if I lose my phone?

Open the Wave app or go to wave.ripta.com and select “Report Lost or Stolen.” That will deactivate the card, but your balance will stay on your account. You can use the Wave app to reactivate your card if your phone turns up, or transfer the card to a new phone.

I got a new phone, and my Wave money is gone!

Just give us a call! We can transfer your Wave balance to your new device.

Rhode Island Public Transit Authority
705 Elmwood Ave.
Providence, RI 02907
Schedule Information
Administrative Offices
Flex Service Reservations

877-906-3539 or (401) 784-9500, ext. 1220

Kennedy Plaza Ticket Sales & Information Window