RIPTA reinstates free bus passes for low-income elderly, disabled

Madeleine Wright | WPRI-TV

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) announced Wednesday that low-income seniors and people with disabilities will once again be able to ride its buses for free starting on Saturday, July 1.

RIPTA put the program on hold back in February due to financial troubles and started charging those riders a reduced $0.50 fare, which many said they could not afford.

Through collaboration with Gov. Gina Raimondo’s office and the General Assembly, the proposed state budget includes money for the free passes for at least the next two years.

“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,” said House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.

“We thank our government partners for providing this temporary funding which allows RIPTA to offer no-fare service to those most in need,” RIPTA CEO Ray Studley added. “We look forward to upcoming discussions about the best way to make this service sustainable.”

In order to qualify for the program, a passenger must be at least 65 years old or be certified as having a disability and not have an annual income in excess of 200 percent of the federal poverty level.