The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) announced today that beginning Saturday, July 1, 2017, passengers enrolled in the Authority’s Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program for low income senior citizens and persons with disabilities will travel for free. Thanks to collaboration between the Governor’s Office and the General Assembly, RIPTA will no longer be charging program participants a reduced fare of 50-cents per boarding and 25-cents per transfer. That reduced fare, which was one-fourth of full fare prices, has been in effect since February 1, 2017.
“The restoration of this program would not have been possible without strong collaboration with leaders in the Senate and House,” Raimondo said. “I credit Senate President Ruggerio and Speaker Mattiello for prioritizing the restoration of bus passes and am pleased that RIPTA will once again be able to offer this service to the most vulnerable Rhode Islanders.”
Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio said, “This issue was a priority for the entire Senate, and I particularly want to acknowledge Senators Harold Metts and Elizabeth Crowley, who sponsored legislation to restore the no-fare service. The Senate is very grateful to Governor Raimondo and Speaker Mattiello for recognizing the importance of this issue to Rhode Island seniors and disabled, as well as to RIPTA for their swift action to restore the service on Saturday.”
RIPTA officials said that passengers enrolled in RIPTA’s Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program will not have to make any changes to ride for free. Although their RIPTA photo identification cards state “reduced fare”, RIPTA is reprogramming the fareboxes on its buses to accept those cards as full payment when tapped at the farebox. This will apply to passengers who have the light blue cards with a white wave design that are labeled as “valid all day.” In order to qualify for this program, participants must be at least 65 years old and not have an annual income in excess of 200-percent of the federal poverty level or they must be certified as having a disability and not have an annual income in excess of 200-percent of the federal poverty level. Specifics about the application process and examples of documentation required can be found at: http://bit.ly/1iYyI5l. If any future changes need to be made to the cards that program participants are issued, RIPTA will notify the public accordingly.
House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello said, “Restoring no-fare passes was an important goal for the General Assembly this year, because we understand the difficulties that low income elderly and disabled Rhode Islanders have faced since they began paying for each ride. No one wants to see elderly and people with disabilities skipping their doctor’s appointments or living in isolation because they don’t have bus fare,” he said. “We are grateful to RIPTA for ensuring the transition will happen right on time and without any red tape for users, so their mobility and independence are restored right away.”
“RIPTA has long recognized the importance of a transportation benefit for the State’s most financially vulnerable residents – the challenge has long been how to fund the transit authority properly for providing this benefit,” said Ray Studley, CEO of RIPTA. “We thank our government partners for providing this temporary funding which allows RIPTA to offer no-fare service to those most in need. We look forward to upcoming discussions about the best way to make this service sustainable.”
For more information on RIPTA’s programs and services, please visit ripta.com or call 401-781-9400.