RIPTA
Photo provided by Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) Credit: RIPTA

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, the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless and Crossroads Rhode Island 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. The following organizations are participating in this pilot program:

Rhode Island Association Community Action Agencies is a trade association for a statewide network of Community Action Agencies (CAAs) who, for over fifty years, have been the safety net for economically disadvantaged and working individuals and families. Independently and collectively the CAA Agencies are working to eliminate the causes and effects of poverty and to open doors to self-sufficiency and better lives for more than 185,000 Individuals and 90,000 Households.

Additional Non-Profit Organizations:

For more information on this pilot program, please visit RIPTA.com/NoFarePilot.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in...