The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) announced today that it is using smaller vehicles from its paratransit division to augment service on busy routes to help ensure that passengers have room for proper social distancing during the current COVID-19 health crisis. The vans are normally used in RIPTA’s paratransit division, called RIde, and will be deployed on an as-need basis with a limit of four passengers per van. The smaller Ride vehicles are typically used to transport persons with disabilities. They are available for use now because ridership is down substantially in both the paratransit and fixed-route divisions of RIPTA.
“We know that there is plenty of room for proper distancing on almost all of our buses due to diminished ridership, but we also know that we have extra vehicles available right now,” said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA’s Chief Executive Officer. “This is a prudent use of these vehicles as we continue to provide essential service throughout our state.”
Avedisian said that the supplemental vehicles will be assigned to the R-Line and other busy routes based on availability. The R-Line is a frequent service route that runs from the Cranston-Providence line into Pawtucket and is RIPTA’s busiest route. The supplemental vehicles are smaller and are branded as RIde vehicles. RIPTA is able to track and monitor the ridership on individual buses through the use of Automatic Passenger Counters (APC) on its vehicles.
Avedisian noted that even with a sharp decline in ridership due to the current health crisis, RIPTA is still providing approximately 100,000 passenger trips a week. “We are aware that we are a lifeline service and that we are getting people to jobs at our hospitals and nursing homes,” he said. “We also know that our service is the only way that some people can get their groceries and medications. We are grateful for our dedicated workforce at this critical time.”
RIPTA is in regular communication with Governor Gina Raimondo’s Office and the Rhode Island Department of Health. The public is urged to follow all directives from the state regarding efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. People should only be using RIPTA when absolutely necessary and no one who is ill or has been exposed to the virus should be out in public. RIPTA is continuing with the increased cleaning and sanitizing measures it announced recently for all of its vehicles and facilities.All public areas are disinfected on a regular basis using EPA-approved and CDC-endorsed disinfectants. Surfaces cleaned on buses include seats, windows, grab rails, steps, and more.
For more information on what RIPTA is doing right now in regards to COVID-19 please visit https://www.ripta.com/covid-19. For general health and safety information for the public please visithttps://health.ri.gov/covid/.