The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is reminding passengers that as of September 1, 2016, RIPTA will no longer accept the blue and orange bus passes for its Seniors and People with Disabilities Bus Pass Program. All eligible passengers and pass holders must requalify for the NEW Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program. Under the new Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program, qualifying passengers will receive a bus pass with a white wave. Passengers can get their bus pass at either the Customer Service Office at RIPTA’s headquarters, 705 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, or at the Photo Identification Office at 1 Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence. Both locations are open Monday through Friday, from 9am to 12:30pm and from 1pm to 4pm. While new passes are required by September 1st, no fare changes are scheduled to go into effect until January 1, 2017, and passengers with the new passes will continue riding for free in this calendar year.
“We began the requalification process in April and we would like to thank our passengers for their patience during this process,” said Barbara Polichetti, Director of Public Affairs for the transit authority. “RIPTA is asking social service agencies and community senior centers to help remind customers of the September 1st deadline and we appreciate the fact that partner state agencies are also helping us get the word out to our passengers.” RIPTA’s outreach has been extensive, she said, and has included distributing information at charitable organizations and senior centers across the state, running radio ads for five months, and posting reminders on its website, social media and the digital boards on buses and at the Kennedy Plaza transit hub.
“We’re issuing this public reminder to try and reach anyone who may not have gotten the message yet so they can come in and get a new pass,” Polichetti said. Anyone who has a pass that was issued before April 1st of this year needs a new pass even if it hasn’t expired yet, she said. “The easiest way to tell if you need a new pass is by the design of your pass,” Polichetti said. “If it has a white wave on it, you’re all set. If it does not, you need to get a new one. Our flyers and other public information have given an overview of the information that passengers need to provide to certify as part of the application process,” she said. “If they’re still not sure, our customer service representatives will help them figure out what documentation they need.” RIPTA has reassigned staff to make sure there was additional customer service assistance during the requalification process and it increased road trip visits to senior centers so that more applications could be processed out in the communities, she said.
“The new passes will need to be renewed every two years instead of five and this will help keep our database current and accurate and provide for better overall management of the program,” Polichetti said She noted that the expiration date of the new passes will be on a customer’s birthday, so everyone will not have to renew at the same time. In order to qualify for this Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program, participants must be at least 65 years old and not have income in excess of the 200-percent of the federal poverty level or have a disability and not have income in excess of 200-percent of the federal poverty level. New passes will be valid for two years from the date of the participant’s next birthday. Individuals who obtained their passes before January 1, 2013 will be required to pay $10 for their new passes. Anyone who obtained their pass after January 1, 2013 will still need to requalify but will not have to pay the $10 processing fee.
More information can be found at http://goo.gl/BiAyV1, or passengers may call Customer Service at 401-781-9400.