Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced today that the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is waiving fares for passengers traveling on Aquidneck Island in order to help people get to warming shelters and other essential services during a gas shutdown affecting about 7,000 National Grid customers.
“My number one priority continues to be public safety, and waiving RIPTA fares will help residents safely access critical services during this outage,” said Governor Raimondo in a prepared statement. “We have set up meal locations in Newport and National Grid continues to provide vouchers for hotels. Even with the slightly higher temperatures today, homes that have been without heat since Monday are too cold to be safe. Residents should seek alternate shelter if they haven’t already. ”
Governor Raimondo has been working with RIPTA, the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency and the City of Newport to determine how to assist area residents. On Monday, National Grid announced that it needed to turn off gas to approximately 7,000 customers as it worked to stabilize the main gas line that services the area. Since then, state and local officials have worked to set up warming shelters and other services for residents without heat.
“During this time, we don’t want transportation to be a barrier for Aquidneck Island residents as they try to get to warming shelters, meal sites, medical appointments and more,” said RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian in the release. “RIPTA can provide them with a warm, safe ride to where they need to go. This is about being there to help a community. Our main intent is to help people who are trying to get to services they need.”
RIPTA has five routes and one Flex Service that offers service on Aquidneck Island; Routes 14, 60, 63, 64, 67 and Flex Zone Route 231. RIPTA will extend this assistance to ADA customers who use the RIde program. RIPTA will be keeping a tally of passenger trips on the island and RIPTA will work with National Grid on reimbursement.
While gas is being restored to some homes and businesses today, others could be without service for a week or more. RIPTA will monitor the situation daily to determine how long bus fares will be waived on Aquidneck Island. The public is encouraged to check www.ripta.com under “Service Alerts” for updates, as well as social media (Facebook @RideRIPTA, Twitter @RIPTA_RI). For more information on RIPTA services, please call 781-9400.
Governor Raimondo will hold a media availability this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at the Newport Marriott.