RIPTA ends free buses on bad-air days, adds new program

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority has done away with a nearly 20-year policy of offering free bus rides on days when the air quality is expected to be unhealthy.

Transit officials say the decision is based on a lack of funding and concerns the program wasn’t encouraging commuters to ditch their cars.

They say the program may have been making the Air Quality Alert days worse.

The free rides became so popular that RIPTA began to see overcrowding on routes that travel to recreational areas on AQA days.

Officials say commuters reported they were avoiding the bus on those days because of overcrowding.

They hope a new program launching this summer will encourage people to try public transit and become regular riders.

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