The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is piloting a new no fare bus pass program for six months to understand the travel needs of low-income individuals who do not qualify for existing transit assistance programs. Under the current structure of RIPTA’s No Fare Bus Pass Program for Seniors and People with Disabilities, applicants must be age 65 or older or have a qualifying disability and must also have an income less than 200% of the poverty threshold. Applicants that meet the income threshold, but neither the age nor the disability threshold, receive no benefit under existing RIPTA programs. This new six-month pilot program is meant to address this gap.
“Increasing access to transportation is a crucial goal. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of this important pilot program that will help improve public transportation, especially for our most vulnerable populations,” said Governor Dan McKee.
On October 19, 2022, the RIPTA Board of Directors voted to create a pilot program that will span six months and give 600 passes to agencies that service low-income, including unhoused, individuals.
RIPTA will work with the Rhode Island Association of Community Action Agencies, along with Mathewson Street United Methodist Church and other organizations to distribute pilot program bus passes fairly and equitably throughout the state.
“RIPTA is committed to removing barriers to transportation for Rhode Islanders, especially those who are low-income or unhoused.” said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA Chief Executive Officer. “This pilot program is an example of our commitment to making sure that everyone in our state has equitable access to public transportation. We look forward to reviewing the information we learn over the next six months and sharing it with our elected officials.”
“This program could be a significant help and game changer for people who are experiencing homelessness and who lack reliable transportation to access the services they need to get back on their feet,” said Michelle Wilcox, President of Crossroads Rhode Island and RIPTA Board Member. “This would potentially reach those in the greatest need.”
This pilot program is only for Rhode Island residents who do not qualify for an existing RIPTA discounted fare program.